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Old 08-17-2004, 09:01 AM   #1
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Excella 31' Curb weight

Has anyone weighed their Excella 31 loaded as we usually haul them? If not, what is your best estimate of the weight?

I'm getting a new tow vehicle, and need a realilstic weight estimate, not the bare-bones unloaded one.
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Old 08-17-2004, 09:19 AM   #2
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The best solution is to take the GVWR printed on the plate of the trailer.
My 31 ft Excella says 8300 lbs.
Some people load an ungodly amount of "stuff" in their trailers and are probably overloaded. That tells me that once you are loaded, a trip across a scale is a great idea to make sure you are not overloaded for the sake of your frame and axles.
If you take 8300 GVWR, and want a 25% margin for travelling in mountains you get 10,375 needed towing capacity.
So, large block gasser with proper axle ratio, or diesel is the best way to go if you want to be able to have any hope of staying with the flow of traffic in any kind of hilly terrain.
I used to tow mine with a 350 in a Yukon. The thought of coming out of the hole at Santa Rosa, NM on I-40 headed West to Clines Corners at 42 mph in 2nd gear and 3000 rpms as the 18 wheelers blow me off the road at 80 mph was enough to cause me to not want to do that, ever.
So, I towed in the flats of West Texas until I could upgrade my tow rig to a Duramax/Allison. Now, I don't even know the trailer is behind me. Instead of white knuckles, and transmission temp, engine temp, and oil pressure guage watching, I just drive pretty much worry free about the performance of my tow rig concentrating on the road and other traffic. It is much less busy and much more enjoyable. And, definitely makes me glad that the tow capacity of my tow rig is not mariginal for the trailer I am pulling.
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Old 08-17-2004, 09:20 AM   #3
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Excella 31 Curb weight

Greetings Bill and Jeanne!

Quote:
Originally Posted by wvmiller
Has anyone weighed their Excella 31 loaded as we usually haul them? If not, what is your best estimate of the weight?

I'm getting a new tow vehicle, and need a realilstic weight estimate, not the bare-bones unloaded one.
Based on the empty weight for a '78 Excella of 4,850 pounds and empty hitch weight of 580 pounds, you are likely dealing with a realistic gross weight of between 6,500 and 7,000 pounds - - remembering that the factory empty weight does not include options nor fluids.

Another option would be to check the placquard on the front of your coach that has the serial number and related information. If it is like the placquard on my '78 Argosy Minuet, it should list the GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating for your coach - - in the case of my Minuet it is within 150 pounds of the actual gross loaded weight of the coach. The GVWR would give you a starting point for the minimum trailer tow weight rating for a prospective tow vehicle.

As an example, my '64 Overlander has a listed factory empty weight of 3,930 pounds with an empty hitch weight of 405 pounds - - the actual empty weight figures including options and accessories is 4,440 pounds with an empty hitch weight of 465 pounds. The actual gross weight when loaded for an extended vacation is 6,100 pounds with a gross hitch weight approaching 775 pounds depending upon how full the 40 pound LP tanks happen to be at the time.

My recommendation would be to consider a 3/4-ton based vehicle with either the big-block gas V8 or the diesel if you prefer that fuel type. I know that the 1500 (1/2-ton) Chevrolet extended cab pickup that I had prior to the Suburban was struggling with my '64 Overlander on aything but level terrain. The Suburban has been a wonderful tow vehicle from the time of purchase (ordered new to my specifications and delivered 4-21-98), and now has in excess of 131,000 miles - - have never regretted going with the big block gas V8 nor the 4.10 differential gearing.

Good luck with your search for the ideal tow vehicle!

Kevin
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Old 08-17-2004, 10:29 AM   #4
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Tow vehicle

For a variety of reasons, I prefer a Suburban-type vehicle to a pickup. I've always used 3/4 ton big blocks until 2001, when I bought a 1500 4x4, looking for a better ride. I knew it was light on power, so I added a Whipple Supercharger, some suspension modifications, and it has had more than adequate power for all occasions.

Unfortunately, the 4L60E tranny burned up at 42,000 miles! Also, the lighter frame and chassis components become obvious when you tow.

I am agonizing between the 2500 4x4 Suburban with a 6L and 4.10 rear axle (with Quadrasteer, which is terrific), one with a big block and 3.73 gears (no Quadrasteer available, though), and and Excursion with the 6.0 diesel. I've been a Chevy guy all my life, but that is a pretty effective tow vehicle with lots of room for big family on long trips.

Choices, choices, choices,,,,,,,
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Old 08-17-2004, 08:32 PM   #5
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78 31' Excella Weight

[QUOTE=overlander64]Greetings Bill and Jeanne!

Kevin:

Not questioning your weights at all - but just surprised that a '78 Excella is so much lighter than the current models. Aside from the Corian countertops and the oak cabinetry is there anything else that added substantially to the weight???
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Old 08-17-2004, 09:16 PM   #6
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Excella 31 Curb weight

Greetings Cracker!

[QUOTE=Cracker]
Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64
Greetings Bill and Jeanne!

Kevin:

Not questioning your weights at all - but just surprised that a '78 Excella is so much lighter than the current models. Aside from the Corian countertops and the oak cabinetry is there anything else that added substantially to the weight???
The empty weight figures are from the Airstream corporate website, and have proven to be relatively accurate so long as one remembers that for the Vintage coaches the empty weight didn't include any optional equipment. You can see the progression of a gradual increase in empty weight as time progressed with the coaches - - reflecting changes in standard vs. optional equipment as well as in materials utilized in construction. Throughout much of the 1970s, the coaches were still being built with the idea that most owners would likely use a full-size family automobile to tow the coach so there was greater concern about maintaining lighter weights. You can find the weight charts at:

Airstream Weights and Measures

The base 30'/31' Airstream Double Bed/Rear Bath model progressed from:
1957 - - 3,860 pounds empty trailer weight/355 pounds empty tongue weight
1965 - - 4,370 pounds empty trailer weight/410 pounds empty tongue weight
1968 - - 4,640 pounds empty trailer weight/415 pounds empty tongue weight
1970 - - 4,960 pounds empty trailer weight/490 pounds empty tongue weight
1974 - - 5,065 pounds empty trailer weight/495 pounds empty tongue weight
1978 - - 4,850 pounds empty trailer weight/580 pounds empty tongue weight
1982 - - 6,800 pounds empty trailer weight/650 pounds empty tongue weight
1988 - - 6,500 pounds empty trailer weight/800 pounds empty tongue weight (side bath as no rear baths listed for 1988 31'/32')
The pre-1980s coaches were somewhat lighter in weight than the coaches that would follow. Part of that can be attributed to the level of standard equipment included with the coach as well as to the materials utilized in the manufacture of the coaches.

Kevin

P.S.: Looking at the figures, it would appear that some adjustments were made between 1974 and 1978. My speculation would be that it was a reaction to the Oil embargo and resulting energy crisis concerns that followed.
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Old 08-17-2004, 10:25 PM   #7
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Kevin- During the Beatrice years, in order to lower weight, in response to the oil embargo, and lower sales, compromises were made. The chief compromise was in the weight of the frame as the Beatrice owners opted for a lighter frame. This backfired to some extent as the tail sag and rear end separation years happen to coincide with the Beatirce Foods ownership years.
Once Thor was the owner, and the engineering problems diagnosed, the frame was once again beefed back up, and therefore the weight went up again.
Also, you are correct that there are many more "standard" features that are not aftermarket add-ons today, that also has increased the "base weight" from the earlier years.
Still best to look at the plate and see what the GVWR is for the trailer with the present axles to begin to determine what capacity tow vehicle to aquire.
...just my 2 cents....
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Old 08-18-2004, 05:04 AM   #8
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Recent towing experience with 31' Excella

I just pulled my 81' Excella II for 5,000 miles with an 02 King Ranch 4x4. It has the 5.4L engine and 3.55 gearing which are maybe not ideal for towing. Even so I had few modifications (electric fans and a rear sway bar) and a positive experience with towing. As dscluchfc noted previously there were two times where I was towing along at 42mph in 2nd gear because of 9% or 10% gradient to the road (NY to AK and crossing the Canadian Rockies). As long as I was with traffic it was no problem to cruise along at 70+mph but you don't get to set your cruise control and ignore hills. Already I am convinced that a supercharger (and other modifications) is the way to go for me. I am unwilling to depreciate another vehicle just to get a diesel. Besides, as a daily driver my F150 is just fine to suit my everyday needs. I'll beef up the power and risk blowing out the tranny, which is more likely to happen while doing high-speed passes at the local raceway...
Don't forget the fact that while in Canada we were regularly filling the 25 gallon tank for $70-85 canadian and getting 7.9mpg (worst tank) to 10.6mpg with an overall average of 9.7mpg (light right foot). The diesel is cheaper and giving you better mileage overall. Also, don't underestimate the extra work that you will be doing when there's no option to punch in the cruise control. It makes a difference in terms of driver fatigue. Good luck!
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Old 08-18-2004, 09:09 AM   #9
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Ice- Great comments. My Duramax gets 20 mpg solo, 17 average driving, and about 11 towing 70+ mph.
With the torque of the diesel, I could set the cruise, except that when towing, I don't know that setting the cruise is the safest thing to do as you are not as "engaged" in driving as maybe you should be when towing if the cruise is on.
The largest difference I notice in towing with the diesel vs. the 350 Chevy is in driver fatigue. I no longer arrive after 300-400 miles absolutely fatigued. I could easily drive 500-700 miles in a day with the diesel and still not be as tired as I was with the too small gasser.
The benefits of not arriving tired are alone worth the price of the Duramax in my opinion.
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Old 08-18-2004, 02:46 PM   #10
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Additional "Recent towing experience"

dscluchfc,

Even if I can drive the additional mileage, my 4 year old, my 2 year old and my lovely, loving wife won't tolerate more than six hours in the truck without complaint...
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Old 08-18-2004, 08:23 PM   #11
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Back to Kevin:

An interesting summary of the weights from 1957 to current models! I initially worried about not having sufficient capacity for all of our gear. So far it does not seem to be a problem - however, I haven't run the trailer across a scale since I loaded up for travel. Time permitting, I plan on doing the scale thing this weekend.
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Old 02-18-2006, 03:40 PM   #12
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Interesting reading guys. So if you were starting from scratch-a 25000 budget in mind would you think a 70's to early 80s Excella in the 30' range and a decent 90s diesel truck would be the solution? Sound conceivable?
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Old 02-18-2006, 03:54 PM   #13
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Interesting reading guys. So if you were starting from scratch-a 25000 budget in mind would you think a 70's to early 80s Excella in the 30' range and a decent 90s diesel truck would be the solution? Sound conceivable?
I've towed my Excella 31 for years now with a 3/4 ton Suburban with a big block, and a 1/2 ton Supercharged Suburban. The 3/4 was better at towing, but the 1/2 ton get better mileage and has a better ride when we are not towing. Mileage is pretty grim either way. With diesel more than gasoline many places, it's pretty mcuh oof a wash from a dolllar viewpoint.

We prefer the Suburban for kids and dogs.
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Old 02-18-2006, 04:38 PM   #14
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Yes, it's true that diesel is now more expensive than gasoline. However, the diesel engine is 30% more efficient that a gas engine of the same displacement. What does that mean? Well, for me, it means going from a 235-hp Dodge Dakota to a 305-hp Cummins Ram, and now I'm getting 20 mpg mixed instead of the Dakota's 14. The BEST the Dakota ever got was 17 mpg.

The fun part of having the Cummins is putting THREE GALLONS of oil in it at oil change. (And filling up a 35-gallon gas tank.)

Also, this engine is known for going 500,000 miles before needing overhaul. I've never been in a Duramax/Allison, but I used to work as a critical transport paramedic, and I can honestly say that Ford Powerstrokes have left me broken down all over the American southeast. Getting a Cummins diesel of my own was just sanity preservation.

Lamar
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