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Old 11-28-2005, 04:24 PM   #1
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1989 32' Excella
Seabrook , Texas
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Red face Half Ton Truck w/ 32' ('89) Excella?

OK, I am very new to this stuff so I hope this isn't considered a "dumb" question. I am thinking about buying a 1989 32' Airstream Excella with a Tow Rite hitch from an individual and am wandering if I will need another tow vihicle other than what I have now. I currently have a 2002 chev half ton with a large v8 or the largest offered for half tons. Will this truck be suficient?

Thanks for any responses,


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Old 11-28-2005, 04:41 PM   #2
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It depends on the rear end gear ratio and how you intend to use the airstream. If it is a 4.1 there should be no problem. What is the displacement of the engine. if 8.1 liter no problem anywhere in the country. Smaller cubic inches will cause you to slow down in the mountains. Especially the tall ones above 10,000 feet as there is little air and so you can not develop the power unless you have a supercharger. You will like going slow in the mountains so you have time to enjoy the scenery anyway. Get out you catalog for your particular truck and look for the tow rating on it. Then figure out what the Airstream with all your junk aboard will weigh. If that exceeds 80% of you trucks rating you will have some problems under some weather and road conditions.

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Old 11-28-2005, 04:50 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Boaz1362
...Will this truck be suficient?
Your truck can move a 32' Airstream, but it will not be a fun experience at highway speeds.

A 3/4 ton truck will make your towing experiences more enjoyable.

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Old 11-28-2005, 05:56 PM   #4
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To echo TomW's reply -- a 1/2-ton truck is probably not suitable.

But welcome to the forums Don -- you've found a good source of first-hand experience, but realize there will be opinions of varying accuracy... lists the absolutely empty tongue weight of this trailer as 700-800#. In spite of good intentions to travel lightly you will need to figure this will head toward 900# or more -- considering added weight of weight-distribution gear, full LP tanks, etc. Do searches on 'payload capacity' or 'GVWR' and apply this to what your truck manual specifies for payload capacity. Ignore 'tow capacity' or 'GCWR' -- you will usually be in compliance there if you pay attention to the following.

Let's see what load does to your tow vehicle alone. Add up passenger pounds in the truck, options on the truck (this usually includes about 200# for the hitch receiver!), topper or tonneau cover, and any firewood or pet food you will carry there. If adding tongue weight on top of that pushes you over payload capacity you don't want to risk life and limb with the combination. If you are merely transporting the trailer to a parking spot it may work if you carry next to nothing in the truck. Be careful and don't go traveling any 70mph with it!

After that? Begin looking around and follow TomW's advice if you truly want to travel with this size of trailer. We're lookin' out for you! Sounds like a great adventure!!

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Old 11-28-2005, 06:05 PM   #5
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1975 28' Argosy 28
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Hi, Don,

It's not a matter of just getting it going. You have to keep it from wobbling all over the road and, most importantly, you need to be able to STOP it.

You didn't mention what other equipment your "half-ton" has. These labels are pretty meaningless now because of heavy duty suspension/frame options, trailer towing packages, etc. Some half-tons have a 3/4 ton payload capacity, 3/4 tons has over two tons, etc.

When the sheet hits wind, there's no substitute for a heavy tow vehicle with monster ventilated disc brakes, a good brake controller for the trailer, and a good operating trailer brake system.

Again, it's that CAN DO and that SHOULD DO.

I shouldn't preach, by the way, but I can speak from experience. I towed a 31' footer Excella over 3,250 miles, including over Appalachia, with a '93 Dakota. It could do, but it wasn't should do. I couldn't WAIT to get a more powerful 3/4 ton truck.

Don, look at your door sticker and the towing manual that came with your truck. Is there any way you can tow that trailer within your gross combined vehicle weight rating? Is it within your tow rating for a pull behind? Is it within your tongue weight limits with weight distributing equipment?

These are the things to consider, and the consensus opinion around this forum is that you're getting into the danger zone whenever get over 80% of your totals - any of them.

By the way, my Dakota was a loaded one-ton model with all the goodies for towing. Other than the lack of mass involved, my biggest problem with it was the lack of braking. One emergency stop going steeply downhill put the fear of mortality in me. That convinced me of two things: one is that the Kelsey-Hayes pendulum brake controller that I've used forever was not up to the task, and the second is that my truck's brakes weren't either. The puckering factor was awesome; the clearance from the vehicle in front when it finally stopped was one inch.

Good luck in this whatever you decide.

1975 Argosy 28 "Argosy"
1979 Excella 500 31 "Betsy"
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Old 11-28-2005, 06:37 PM   #6
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I have a Ford 150, 5.4L, 3:55 rear axle and pull a 30ft 2001 Excella. My wife and I pulled this rig across the US along I-80 all the way to Sacramento. We entered Lake Tahoe from Carson City and exited along the route to Targhee. We left I-80 and took hwy 49 which is primarily a North South route through the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. We would drop 1500 feet only to rise once again on and off for over 50 miles. The signs warned semis with 59ft from kingpin to rear axle to stay off the road. We continued up the coast (US 101) to the mouth of the Columbia River where we turned back East along I-94, I-90 and eventually back to Michigan. The trip was more than 7000 miles and we averaged 12 mph at speeds under 65 mph. (The climbs up the mountain grades were much slower but we considered them safe since we moved along with the truck traffic.) My major concern was braking; I plan to retrofit the Excella with disc brakes. I use a Reece dual cam hitch with 900# bars. We take our trips at a reasonable speed and never travel more than 300 miles per day unless we are trying to make a schedule. We have spent nights at rest areas, Wal Mart and some of the most beautiful state and national parks. The state parks along the Pacific coast of Oregan are un-paralled in beauty and of course the scenery is as well. In Michigan many drivers pulling travel trailers do not slow their speed; they drive as if they are not pulling a 4 to 5 ton trailer and as a consequence accidents occur frequently. So there is also the driver who is the most important factor in the equation. This is not to imply that such issues as gross weight, weight distribution, hitch design, tire pressure, vehicle wheel base, tow vehicle ratings and the like are not important. But ..............
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Old 11-28-2005, 06:46 PM   #7
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instant poll

I just now looked to the side of the monitor and saw a poll taken on driving speeds. What a coincidence. The results: over 85 percent of the respondents said they drove over 60 mph while towing their trailer. It was not long ago that the speed limit on expressways was set to 55 mph max. The savings in gasoline alone were phenomenal. We will never no for certain how many lives were saved.
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:15 PM   #8
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One frequently overlooked part of the equation is tires and their load carrying capacity. Do the math, or weigh on a scale to make sure your tires are rated for the load they will be carrying.

'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 11-28-2005, 08:54 PM   #9
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Weigh it & stay within the specs form Ford. Get a good proportional brake controller (another complete discussion). Your hitch sounds fine, but that is also open to a very many varied opinions. When you weigh, do the truck & trailer fully loaded & unhitched, then hitch & reweigh, then 'load the WD bars & weigh a 3rd time. This will give you all the data you need to make decisions & adjustments with.
The best way to do this is to use a split scale at truck stops, the scale is divided into 3 sections, the "steering axle"/1st, the "drive wheels"/2nd, & the "tandems or trailer"/3rd. The pick-up can be positioned on the "drive wheel"/2nd section with the trailer positioned on the "tandems/trailer"/3rd section. Position the tongue jack of your trailer so that it comes down on the 3rd section of the scale, that way when you unhitch, the pick-up & trailer are both compleately on their own section of the scale. Ask for a weight, they will record it, hitch up (do not 'load' the WD bars) & ask for a re-weigh & they will record that, then 'load' the WD bars & get a final re-weigh. (Big trucks do this often as they adjust weight for proper dist. on all axles.-required by the DOT). Most CAT (a brand name scale) scales will charge about $8.00 for the 1st weigh & $1.00 for each re-weigh. You will get a certificate for each of the "weighs", there will be 3 weights on each certificate corresponding to each section of the scale. Simple arithmetic will give you all of the numbers you need including how much weight you "move" with the WD bars!!
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:42 PM   #10
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You know, as most folks know around here, I was in a somewhat similar situation to yours and did it with the equiv of a 1/2 ton and since going 3/4 ton, it's a night and day a matter of fact, I just rotated the tires on our 3/4 ton Burb this past weekend. When I took the wheels off I was amazed at how big the discs are on that any rate, without getting real far in to it, on the top of the page is a search button, type in 1/2 ton or towing, etc and you'll find LOTS of info.

Personally, I would not tow larger than a 25' coach with a 1/2 ton. Once you pass the 25' you really IMHO start to get into the 3/4 ton sandbox.
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Old 11-28-2005, 09:57 PM   #11
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Im just this guy who doesnt know all that much, I will say this though: I have never read about the guy who got rid of his 3/4 to get a 1/2 to tow with. You dont reckon there is a reason for this do you? Just sayin.....

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Old 11-29-2005, 07:20 AM   #12
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1990 34' Excella
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We purchased a 31' Excella 500 and I initially towed it with a F-150 that was equipped with the 5.4 V-8 and had the proper rear end, etc. After using this combination for about 3 months, we had a couple of times where it really felt like the AS was driving the truck instead of the opposite.

We now have an F-350, yeah it's overkill, but the towing difference is night and day.

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Old 11-29-2005, 07:32 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Swanny

We now have an F-350, yeah it's overkill, but the towing difference is night and day.

Mitch. Several folks here have said that the 350s (1 tonners) are too harsh on an Airstream. Mind you I have no direct exp of this, but several folks here that I would consider in the know have stated this. Something about popping rivets, etc..... I'd be inclined to also look at something like this if I had a 1 ton (350 Ford or 3500 GM or higher):
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Old 11-29-2005, 09:42 AM   #14
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1990 34' Excella
Windcrest , Texas
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Smile No problems yet

I recall seeing something about 'popping rivets,' but must say that we've had no stress problems as of yet. I believe the key to using a vehicle this large is having the proper height of the hitch. Since it's taller than an F-150, both the F-250 and F-350 will require a 'ballmount' that lowers it to the correct height.

Luckily the owners manual for our 1975 Excella stated the exact ball height to be 19 inches from the ground. This set up, matched with the correct adjustments on our weight distributing hitch makes for a very smooth ride.

Matter of fact, I accidentally left a can of WD-40 on the counter while towing it. The can didn't move an inch after 20 miles of towing from the AS repair shop to our house.


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