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Old 01-22-2013, 09:56 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by switz View Post
A previous poster is confusing tow vehicle maximum tow weight as an indicator of tow vehicle tongue weight capacity of the hitch. The label on the vehicle's hitch will show numbers for tongue weight and maximum trailer weight and also the same numbers if using a weight distribution hitch.

My 25FB had a 833 pound tongue weight per factory specification and the real scaled weight is 1,175 pounds as it currently sits with full water tank. The trailer GVW is 7,300 pounds.

A 30' Classic has a factory tongue weight of 733 pounds and a GVW of 10,000 pounds.

Thus we have a higher GVW trailer weight with a lower tongue weight.

Using the 2012 F-150 Ford literature for a King Ranch SuperCrew cab, short bed 4x4, with Max Towing package (Max Payload package is NOT available for this model), the manufacturer says the vehicle will tow a maximum trailer weight of 11,700 pounds, BUT that is part of the GCWR rating of 17,100 pounds which means that with the heaviest trailer attached, the truck itself can only weight 5,400 pounds.

Turning to the next page, one sees that with the EcoBoost motor, 4x4 and Max towing package, the Maximum GVW for the truck is 7,650 pounds with initial payload of 1,900 pounds. Going to another Ford document, we find out that the 1,900 pounds is for NO installed upgrades from a raw base truck. The fudge factor for factory installed equipment and options is 427 pounds and a base curb weight of 5,687 pounds. That means the payload is REDUCED from 1,900 pounds to 1,473 pounds. Immediately we can see that with no other stuff in the truck, the curb weight weighs more than the net figure mentioned above at 5,400 pounds. In fact, taking the 7,650 pound truck GVW away from the 17,100 GCWR leaves the actual maximum trailer weight that can be towed at 9,450 pounds.

Thus the maximum size Airstream Classic that one should consider weight wise would be the 27FB. All models of the International trim line and Flying Cloud trim line weight are at 8,800 GVW or less. Interesting is the fact that the 28' models have the highest tongue weights of 976 pounds for Flying Cloud and 950 pounds for the International model.

Note that the F150 under discussion could have an optional 36 gallon instead of a 26 gallon fuel tank. The extra ten gallons of gasoline reduces payload capacity by about 62 pounds.

The front axle is rated 3,900 pounds and the curb weight for it is 3,206 pounds, so the payload for the front axle is 694 pounds. The rear axle is rated for 4,090 pounds with the curb weight of 2,481 pounds for a payload of 1,609 pounds. The net payload numbers total 2,303 pounds. The gotcha is that the axle ratings added together equals 7,950 pounds but the truck GVW is 7,650 pounds so there is a factory safety factor of 300 pounds or perhaps a handling issue.

Going back to our new net payload number of 1,473 pounds with the standard 26 gallon tank, we have to deduct the tongue weight of the trailer which is 1,175 for my 25FB. That leaves 198 pounds for the wife, the driver's weight above 150 pounds and other stuff. It would be 62 pound less with the larger fuel tank, or 136 pounds payload available. Even though one is using a weight distribution hitch, the downward force due to gravity on the back end of the truck stays at 1,175 pounds. The WD hitch may shift apparent weight forwards and rearward because of leverage, but the steel attachment point between truck and trailer always sees the total static tongue weight.

That is why the static tongue weight is referenced when looking at which hitch to acquire or if preinstalled at the factory, does it have enough capacity and/or does it need reinforcement? Also, if one has to use a drop hitch, the longer the drop, the more rotational forces that are applied to the hitch welds to the attachment points. Some brands of factory hitches have had failures at the weld joints at the end of the cross member supporting the receiver tube.

Just because the motor will pull the weight along on a flat surface, is not the primary concern. The specifications of the axles, wheels and tires, hitch etc limit the total load of both the TT and TV. Overloading means more stress on bearings, gear trains, braking capacity etc and reduces the factory safety margins that could have a tremendously negative impact on emergency handling or cause premature failure of expensive parts.

When selecting a more modest sized towing vehicle, a through exercise of working the numbers will allow the user to determine if this particular tow vehicle as fully speced would always be operated at it's gross capacity or even overloaded?

Take an identical model an a demo ride across the scales with a full gasoline tank and driver and usual passenger with their got to have stuff (like a 20 pound purse). Look at the actual front and rear axle weights and actual gross weight. Now you have a realistic set of numbers for a basis to do all the other necessary calculations to see if the your specific trailer and vehicle fall within the factory guidelines.

Then the decision to run at gross weight or over is based upon reality and not wishful thinking. The vehicle manufacturer's engineers can tell if a vehicle's part failure could be due to overloading and thus not eligible for warranty replacement.

Great analysis!!! Just wish others would do the same and include a margin of safety in their numbers that are realistic. Life is a lot less stressful when you are not worrying if that last bag of groceries just put you over the limits on the tires, tongue, axle or wherever you just sat it down.
Maybe another thread should be started, using your type of analysis and have people report their safety margins on things like tongue weight, axle loading (tv and trailer) tire capacity (tv and trailer) gvw vs gvwr(tv and trailer), and anything else that is relevant. Use manufacturers numbers as a baseline as those are 100% of maximum rating.
Again, great analysis

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Old 01-22-2013, 11:14 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Moflash View Post
Doug we are all fellow Airstreamers.We are also a group that has learned by experience and trial and error.i have learned a lesson myself by buying the wrong tow vehicle. My back ground is 38 years in the automobile industry .i have learned that most car salespeople along with the sales managers that order the vehicles for inventory know very little when it comes to selecting the right vehicle and options for pulling a travel trailer.
A 1/2 ton pickup can be a great tow rig but as with anything they have their limits and in most instances it's payload capability.
My advise
Ask for a towing guide at the dealership and study it until you understand it.then look at the specs on your Airstream. Find the vehicle that more than meets but exceeds the required demands of your needs.Or buy a smaller trailer that works with a lighter duty truck.

But those numbers are not B.S
I agree.

The bottom line is that we all live in the U.S., where lawsuits are a fact of life. Ignore tow ratings and the people at CanAm RV are not going to be able to save you from the attorneys:

Towing beyond any vehicle's manufacturer's weight ratings-or without regard to the properly-equipped limitations a vehicle's manufacturer places on the towing vehicle-relates directly to the "Law of Negligence", and places you, the driver, bearing the full weight of liability issues.

"A plaintiff who was injured as a result of some negligent conduct on the part of a defendant is entitled to recover compensation for such injury from that defendant," quotes Richard Alexander, a major injury trial attorney in San Jose, California.

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Old 01-23-2013, 05:54 AM   #73

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Wink Chill....

… ain't rocket science.

nice chartswhere are the CAT tickets? consider factory weights as a starting point only.

excess verbiage fogs my minimalist mind.

common sense trumps...better safe than sorry.

look for a TV dealer with a lot of "white" on the new vehicle lot. A good commercial sales department will be knowledge equipped about trucks/TV.


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but I’m the Husband, so we went to Cleveland. 😂

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Old 01-23-2013, 06:21 AM   #74
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To the newbies: As you've probably noticed, any thread here about tow vehicles and hitches is pretty much guaranteed to end in arguments. This one took a lot longer than most.

I'm pretty sure the usual taboo topics of religion and politics pale in comparison to the hitch question especially.

I'll stay out of the recommendations game and say this: We tow with a 3/4 ton truck. It took me a LONG time, about a year and a half and ~8,000 miles, to get truly comfortable with the rig. The trip we took last weekend was the first time that I felt pretty well relaxed through most of the drive. I just had to experience and deal with the ugly situations that happen - wind, heavy rain, blowouts, people pulling out in front, etc., before I had enough experience to feel truly comfortable (note, there's a difference between "comfortable" and "arrogant" - don't get arrogant). That is where you eventually want to be with whatever tow vehicle you pick - comfortable. It makes the drives go much, much better.
1995 Airstream Classic 30' Excella 1000
2014 Ram 2500 Crew Cab with Cummins 6.7L Diesel

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Old 01-23-2013, 07:02 AM   #75
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My advice is get the max payload package. Payload is the critical factor. Trucks with the towing package (Ford has two different ones - towing pkg and max tow package) will pull either trailer but specifics to watch are the payload numbers as they relate to the passengers, gear and tongue weight combined. So, go for the higher payload number. Gas weight is included in the Ford truck weight already. If you get a Ford, bargain for their brake controller if not included. Mine had the tow package but no controller or extended mirrors (part of max payload package) so I got them added via Aero mirrors and them installing the controller. Hang in there. At least you are looking in the right direction and not looking at a SMART for 2 to pull it!
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:17 AM   #76
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Certainly lots of strong opinions all around when it comes to tow vehicles! We each make our own choices and live with them for better or for worse.

Just a few comments on how I made my own decision, and certainly not to criticize someone else's rationale that is at odds with my own!

I found this article interesting ...............


I have read that some folks feel that it is a myth that you could be successfully sued in the event of an accident wherein you are found to have been towing above the manufacturer's rating of your tow vehicle.

I have no idea if that is true or not. But for my part, I felt I'd be a lot happier not having to ever find out. Or even having to worry about the possibility as I do tend to worry wart over things like that! So this concern played a big part in my own decision.

The above mentioned article does quote some legal opinions claiming that you as the vehicle operator could well put yourself into a very vulnerable situation.

I'll be the first to admit that my tow vehicle is a bit large to use as a daily driver, but we manage ok with it. In mall car parks, I don't even bother looking for a spot close to the mall doors - the extra minute's walk from an easy "end spot" a little further away probably isn't a bad thing for me anyway!

I do find that my particular setup sure makes for a relaxing experience when towing, much more so than the previous setup I had. Of course I didn't realize it until I made the switch.

I previously used a half ton with tow package that was "just" within its ratings, maybe not depending on how much I loaded up the truck and the trailer!

It didn't seem that bad, but I often felt as though I was on the edge of having the tail wag the dog. it was quite a revelation when I moved to our present tow vehicle and then realized how tightly I had been hanging on to the wheel! Mind you, at the same time I also switched to a Hensley hitch and so gained the combined benefit of both changes.

I am a retired mech. eng., but certainly profess no particular expertise in towing.

I do however feel that it is no bad thing to keep actual applied loads substantially under what a manufacturer claims to be a maximum rating for best reliability and longevity of any piece of equipment.

Also, I can't help feeling that marketing department priorities might well tend to push and influence engineering departments somewhat when arriving at a maximum advertised ratings for a particular vehicle!

Just my opinion, for what it my be worth!
Brian & Connie Mitchell

2005 Classic 30'
Hensley Arrow / Centramatics
2008 GMC Sierra SLT 2500HD,4x4,Crew Cab, Diesel, Leer cap.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:17 AM   #77
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To me it is simple - less than 25 feet 1/2 ton. 25 feet or more 3/4 ton. Give it the 'look' test. If it looks wrong (little truck big trailer) or (M2 Sport Chassis and a 19 foot Bambi) then most likely it is wrong.

A 28 foot trailer looks better behind a 3/4 ton truck.

I am looking at a 30 foot AS - no brainer, not even going to post a question. 3/4 ton truck for me.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:18 PM   #78
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I've said this before on these types of threads: I note that most people are only concerned with "towing." You also need to be concerned with braking!

A 3/4 ton truck has substantially heavier duty brakes than a 1/2 ton because it is designed to carry a lot more weight. I learned the importance of all this when I let my sister drive my 3/4 ton and 25' trailer over Tioga Pass from the east into Yosemite Park, a drop of about 7,500' of elevation. As we neared the bottom of the canyon floor of Yosemite at about 4,500' of elevation, I could smell an extremely strong brake smell. I was in trouble, my untrained sister was at the wheel, and the brakes were weakening quickly with no place at all to pull over. The only reason I'm alive to type this, in my belief, is because the heavier duty brakes on the 3/4 ton just barely saved my hide. And I mean just barely. After we were able to stop, I never saw a brake and wheel area so unbelievably hot. When I got home, I replaced the brakes pads with super high end pads and replaced the factory rotors with "slotted" rotors which more effectively dissipate heat. So a 1/2 ton truck might work well 99.999% of the time. But that last .0001% can kill ya. You have to be prepared, in my opinion, for all situations, not just the majority. A 3/4 ton truck is not overkill. It is protection.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:20 PM   #79
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Is there more to this question? Here's a scratch at the surface:

RV Lifestyle - 2010 Vol. 38 Issue 7

Doug k
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:59 PM   #80
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Another person that ignores maximum payload specifications.People read articles like this and believe the author to be a authority when in fact he or she is a writer paid to write interesting stories.Next week he may be writing a story for Better Homes and Gardens about the best tort recipes.We see this all the time with automobile articles in magazines like Car and Driver and Road and Track.When you read this stuff you can only shake your head and chuckle.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:01 PM   #81
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Most 1/2 ton trucks have plenty of power to pull a 28' trailer, but the big difference between 1/2 ton 3/4 to1 ton trucks is the brakes and front suspention . I have towed with a 1/2 ton truck with sway bars and load levellers. the big difference is the porpusing of the front of the tow vehicle . the front of the 1/2 ton trucks bounce up and down . I have a f350 diesel dully Great for towing , this is my daily driver a little rough riding unloaded. They have put much better brakes on 1/2 ton trucks . I still think if you are gonna tow a travel trailer you should buy a 3/4 ton truck .
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:07 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by Moflash View Post
Another person that ignores maximum payload specifications.People read articles like this and believe the author to be a authority when in fact he or she is a writer paid to write interesting stories.Next week he may be writing a story for Better Homes and Gardens about the best tort recipes.We see this all the time with automobile articles in magazines like Car and Driver and Road and Track.When you read this stuff you can only shake your head and chuckle.
The author:

Can-Am RV Centre | Your Towing Experts
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:19 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by Moflash View Post
Another person that ignores maximum payload specifications.People read articles like this and believe the author to be a authority when in fact he or she is a writer paid to write interesting stories.Next week he may be writing a story for Better Homes and Gardens about the best tort recipes.We see this all the time with automobile articles in magazines like Car and Driver and Road and Track.When you read this stuff you can only shake your head and chuckle.

Chuckle away, Moflash.

Take the time to view Andy's work on his website:

Can-Am RV Centre | #1 Airstream Dealer in Customer Satisfaction Worldwide | Your Full-Service RV Dealer

You'll find no one better qualified in the US and Canada to write about towing.
Steve; also known as Mr UK Toad

"You can't tow that with that!"
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:16 PM   #84
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Wow, I never would have guessed tow vehicles could be this controversial.

My son bought a new F150 last month. The stated payload capacity for his configuration on the Ford website and brochure is 1560 pounds. The door sticker says that the combined of occupants and cargo should never exceed 1310 pounds, a 250 pound difference. I believe the difference is with the options on his vehicle reducing the payload capacity (skid plates, moonroof, subwoofer, etc.). The difference might also be the fuel.

I'm leaning towards an F150 ecoboast in a configuration that has a stated payload capacity of 1900 pounds. It is higher then my son's because of max tow package, shorter bed, and lighter engine. Otherwise I will be optioned about the same so I believe I will probably be at about 1650 pounds. Not a lot to work with considering my 28' International has a tongue weight per AS of 950 including propane. However, the WD hitch will push some of this back to the trailer axles.

The GVWR on the truck is 7650, GVWR on the trailer is 7600 which puts the GCWR at 15,250. The rated GVWR from Ford is 17,100 which I will be well under that amount.

Also, I can order the truck with LT tires which makes a lot of sense or else I can order it with the standard P metrics and change out to an LT tire when I get the truck. The LT's from Ford are load range C's.

I'd like to have the added capacity of going to a 3/4 ton but it is not what I want to live with for a daily driver (BTW, not everyone that selects a 1/2 ton over a 3/4 ton is doing it to save money). It is a very frustrating process with all of this largely because of the lack of decent detailed information and vastly different opinions on the subject. And no, you don't need a 1 ton dually to pull a 6' open utility trailer nor is a Smart car an adequate tow vehicle for your 34' Classic.

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