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Old 05-24-2015, 09:56 AM   #1
Tao
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Airstream Serenity 27FB tow vehicle specs

Put our home in Chapel Hill, NC up for sale 3 weeks ago.

Yesterday we put a deposit on a new 2015 Serenity 27FB. It will be used for extended travels of several months, possibly longer, in the USA and hopefully parts of Canada. This is the 3rd Airstream we have owned; 16 Intl., 22 Cloud and a 19 Intl; all dramatically shorter and lighter than what we have just purchased.

As it is the longest and heaviest I of what I have towed, Id like to ask the community for guidance on essential options on the tow vehicle, and frankly desirable items as well.

Key element for me is that the tow vehicle is powerful and can be the dog rather than the tail - I don't like the sensation that the trailer is deciding where I'm headed.

My list of required items is for a 2015 Ford/Chevy Crew Cab with interior of a Lariat or Chevy comparable interior:
Must be a reliable truck
4x4
diesel that is equipped with a compression brake for travel in the mountains
Tow package
Tow Mirrors
Blind Spot monitor, backup camera
Ideally a drivers seat extender - I'm 6'4" and need the leg support.
Lockable tail gate

What am I missing that I'll wish I had?

Best Axel ratio? Want the best mileage - I'm not a heavy foot driver.
Largest fuel tank - need for aux fuel tank?
Thinking the standard bed length as it will become a daily driver once we settle down.
Any need to upgrade the alternator from the factory default?
18" or 20" wheels - any advantage to the 20"?

Best CAB level bed cover with side access windows?

I currently have a 2015 Toyota Tundra 1794 with only 5800 miles on it BUT I'm not comfortable that it will be able to "manhandle" the 27FB to the degree I want it to. Thus, going with a 3/4 ton rig.

As to Hitch, I've used both Hensley and ProPride in the past and will more than likely go with another ProPride.

Expect I'll add solar panels and a generator in due time - we like to occasionally dry camp: Albuquerque Balloon Festival and Oshkosh Air Show.

Thus, I'd like your advice from your lessons learned.
Thanks in advance,
Jack
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Old 05-24-2015, 10:21 AM   #2
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We have a 2014 F350 diesel that's great, but why not start out with your Tundra and see if it has the chops to do what you want.

If you do buy, go with 18" wheels. More sidewall, and handles chains better. Ford recommends not putting chains on 20" wheels.
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:28 PM   #3
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I'm very conservative and as such, would rather had a tow vehicle that is overkill than take any chance on the Tundra.

On your F350 - I'm curious about what Airstream you tow and what is your average MPG?
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:36 PM   #4
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In my recent research, it appears dodge smokes em all on capacity on their 2500 diesel - and some decent interior styling.

I think anything 2500 and up would overkill the 7600# trailer... and I agree that the Tundra might not be the best all around choice.

A 3500 is going to increase your payload by a BUNCH... like from 1900#'s to 3600#'s.

I think they Chevy High Country interior is smoking hot! I think you find it very much akin to your 1794 for sure.

So chevy 2500 HD, diesel, high country... sounds like a winner to me.
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:45 PM   #5
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Thanks - I'm planning to go look at the Chevy High Country tomorrow. Images on the web look quite attractive, but nothing I've seen can match the beauty of the 1794 interior. (I've just listed my Tundra in the Classified section)

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Originally Posted by Plasma800 View Post
In my recent research, it appears dodge smokes em all on capacity on their 2500 diesel - and some decent interior styling.

I think anything 2500 and up would overkill the 7600# trailer... and I agree that the Tundra might not be the best all around choice.

A 3500 is going to increase your payload by a BUNCH... like from 1900#'s to 3600#'s.

I think they Chevy High Country interior is smoking hot! I think you find it very much akin to your 1794 for sure.

So chevy 2500 HD, diesel, high country... sounds like a winner to me.
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Old 05-24-2015, 03:53 PM   #6
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I recommend a 2012 Audi Q7 TDI, or the GL 350 Bluetec.
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Old 05-24-2015, 06:47 PM   #7
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I think the OP wants a truck. I agree with your recommendation both for comfort and safety, but I don't think it's the desired option.
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Old 05-24-2015, 07:18 PM   #8
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We travel 6-7 months a year with our Ram 1500, many cross-country and coast-to-coast trips, no problem when you use the transmission to let the engine reach its ideal power band or find its excellent engine braking.

Not sure why "manhandling" the Airstream matters, but a Hensley or ProPride hitch will make it "handle" extremely well. With these hitches the Airstream can only go where your truck steers it, including straight ahead.

Stay with the Tundra, your Airstream will like it better and so will your back. You'll save a heap of money. If you don't like it you can always trade down to a heavier truck.

cheryl
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckottum View Post
We travel 6-7 months a year with our Ram 1500, many cross-country and coast-to-coast trips, no problem when you use the transmission to let the engine reach its ideal power band or find its excellent engine braking.

Not sure why "manhandling" the Airstream matters, but a Hensley or ProPride hitch will make it "handle" extremely well. With these hitches the Airstream can only go where your truck steers it, including straight ahead.

Stay with the Tundra, your Airstream will like it better and so will your back. You'll save a heap of money. If you don't like it you can always trade down to a heavier truck.

cheryl
The tundra very well might do it just fine, I think he's right, I'd go a few miles on flat land first and see how it goes.
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Old 05-24-2015, 08:57 PM   #10
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We started towing our 2013 25FB International Serenity with my 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI using a Hensley hitch. While it had the power to pull the 7,300 GVW trailer, the scales reported bad numbers when loaded for camping.

We acquired a 2012 Ram 2500HD 4x4 diesel crew cab and short bed and it towed the 25FB with no issues. When we acquired the 31' Classic, we upgraded to the second generation Hensley design called the ProPride. No issues towing the Classic.

It has a comfortable ride and carries everything we want in the bed.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:15 PM   #11
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Not hearing feedback on the ideal truck options list.
Any suggestions on items I overlooked in my initial post?

Jack
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:30 PM   #12
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Cannot comment on Ford from your list, but was a Chevy only guy for a long time. You'll want a 6.2L if going 2500, look for 4.10 rear axle, if you get the 1500, it's harder to find, but the 6.0L pulls great. Talking gas here, not diesel. Same rear end or 3.73 even, don't go with anything less.

I'd say these days, you're going to want a backup camera. I don't even need the wife to hitch up with mine. I usually just get it under the ball on the first try. Couldn't imagine not having the camera now.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:37 PM   #13
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If you have the 5.8L Tundra, you'll have more than enough power to pull a 27, especially if it has the tow package.
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Old 05-24-2015, 10:10 PM   #14
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Regarding your list of required items, I don't think you'll have any problems among the Big Three automakers with the possible exception of a blind spot monitor (on the bright side, a fresnel lens is a cheap option). Plus, they all seem to have fairly decent flexibility as far as moving the seat forward and back and moving the pedals out and in, so figuring out a means of extending the length of the seat bottom for your 6'4" frame may not ultimately be much of an issue if they don't already offer a solution. My husband was comfortable with the seat length in everything we test drove, but you're taller by two inches.

You'll even find that a lot of the required items you listed are readily available in trucks already on the lot. I think all the new 3/4-ton diesel trucks come equipped with an exhaust brake these days, but I could be wrong. Things that can be harder to find on the lot in a 1/2-ton truck are frequently standard on the 3/4-ton trucks or dealers will typically order them anyway, including things like towing packages, integrated trailer brakes, and towing mirrors (however, power folding towing mirrors are often an upgrade, and I don't know about you, but I wasn't keen on the idea of potentially having to mess with manual towing mirrors in a rainstorm!)

The rear axle ratio on the 3/4-ton diesels seems to be a given and not a choice. On the GMC we were considering it was 3.73, on RAM it is 3.43, and I don't recall what was available on the Ford.

Ford claims a gas tank of 37.5 gallons on the Crew Cab-- we were initially confused that their Super Cab, which to us sounds like it ought to be bigger than the Crew Cab but isn't (especially when looking at RAM's Crew Cab vs. Mega Cab), only has a 26-gallon tank. GMC/Chevy comes in at 36 gallons, and RAM has a 31-gallon tank. Neither the RAM nor the Airstream we've ordered have arrived yet, so we have no idea if we'll eventually want to add an auxiliary tank or not.

You asked about upgrading the alternator-- we did decide to upgrade that when we ordered a RAM 3/4-ton diesel because A) it didn't cost much, and B) it gives a little more " oomph" when it comes to recharging both the trailer batteries and things like cell phones, iPads, and possibly even our CPAP batteries.

Since you're planning to go with a 3/4-ton diesel truck, I think you can be confident that you'll be happy with whichever brand best accommodates your special needs related to your height and is most comfortable for you. Ford, RAM, GMC/Chevy all product a good 3/4-ton diesel truck (the running gag during our truck-shopping experience was that the vast majority of salespeople said something along the lines of "Yes, our competitors are also making a fine 3/4-ton diesel truck, but ours is just a LITTLE better.")

We felt each brand had some advantages, disadvantages and something unique over the others, but in the end it was a lot of piddly little things making a truck seem more or less comfortable and practical to our particular needs and wants that started to add up and help determine our final choice.

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What am I missing that I'll wish I had?
In our own case, we decided we absolutely could not live without the Rambox option. Not everyone agrees with us.

As is often said-- you like what you like, and that's all there is to it. Have fun shopping and checking them all out! Whichever one you choose, you're going to love it.
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