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Old 01-17-2013, 10:08 PM   #1
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New guy totally frustrated picking the right TV

I have been going around in circles trying to select the right TV for my future AS. Am looking at the 27-28' with GVWR OF 7600#. Have just read about two miles of very good threads which has me confused. Also just returned from the Ram shop and the Chevy shop. (Ford tomorrow) looking at half tons. Both show tow capabilities in the 9500-10,000# range so overall weight should not be a problem. The Chevy 1500CC with a short box and 6.2 engine is actually rated at 10,600 with 3.73 axle. They tell me it also will take a tongue weight of 1121 WHEN OUTFITTED WITH THE PROPER HITCH. The 27FB tongue is 791#. This seems to be plenty of truck as I would be 3000 # in reserve on tow capacity and about 130 # under the tongue weight before hitch and propane. I want to set things up responsibly and safely to tow in wind , mountains , etc. What is confusing me is that the more I read the more it feels like I need a Caterpillar tractor to safely pull even the smallest load. Am I missing something or would I have a safe rig as long as I stay inside the specs? Having read all the threads it seems there is a large contingent that believe you need to have lots of capacity in reserve. In this case i would have reserve tow capacity but marginal toungue weight reserve which i believe could be safely and honestly offset by a high quality hitch system as i have been reading about. Really appreciate any help I can get .
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:24 PM   #2
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On your hitch weight ... have you factored in full propane tanks / batts and the actual weight of the hitch, itself ... any additional weight from your payload in the rear of the PU as well as added hitch weight from payload in the trailer ... water, food, personal gear ?
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:29 PM   #3
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Just as point of reference, my 27FB, loaded for travel, has a 900 lb tongue weight, as measured at the CAT scale. A deciding factor for me in my choice of TV was the actual weight of the truck, when loaded with passengers, tongue weight, and equipment, relative to the GVWR of the truck.
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:38 PM   #4
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There is no real answer to your question. In the old days we towed with much smaller vehicles, and seemed to get through just fine. Over 50 years ago Wally took a group from Capetown to Cairo over No Roads to speak of, with rigs that were a shadow of what we have today.

Now I read of people who think they have to have a F350 to tow a 19' Bambi.

I have towed probably 175,000 to 200,000 miles with various rigs. A '79 Jeep Cherokee (full size V8) a Suburban with the early 6.2 L diesel (145 hp), two Grand cherokee's with the old straight 6, one with a 4.7 L V8, and now with a GC and a huge hemi V8. All did the job, some slower than others but I never was unsafe, and never stopped, even in the Yukon with the Suburban and a 25' AS. The 145 hp Suburban even towed a 34' tri axle Avion on one trip.

Modern tow vehicles are very capable. I would not stress about them much. Get a good hitch (yes, even a conventional one) and hitch up and go. After a while you will find that you may want a different tow vehicle for some reason, but that the one you got to begin with did the job just fine.

Don't stress, stay in the manufactures recommendation range, and go camping!
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Old 01-17-2013, 10:43 PM   #5
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I believe we have all struggled with the same issues....

The best advice is to go bigger than you think you will need! The main reason is all the "stuff" you will carry in the truck bed and how it affects your "weight" specs.

The other main reason is stability with towing..the bigger the more stable..of course the WD hitch makes a huge difference.

We have a one ton Ram dually, BUT we had a fifth wheel before we became enlightened and purchased an AS 30'. ( Even with this truck, we were nearly over the weight specs! If we added our daughter, grandson and one suitcase--we exceeded the limits of the truck!)

Now, when towing the AS, the beast doesn't even know that the trailer is "back there"...we have a load of extras....air compressor, BBQ grill, tool box, First aide extras, washing materials, etc....a LOT of stuff!

My good friend tows his 31' with a one ton Ram. If I could have a mulligan, I would have a one ton diesel- no dually.

In your situation, I would suggest at least a 3/4 ton with a WD hitch like a Propride. Remember also you probably will at sometime be carrying extra people and luggage.

"They" will tell you that you can tow that AS with a given truck, but you still have to STOP it, climb grades, and control the down grade...I fell prey to that advice when we bought a 3/4 ton to pull the fifth wheel....bad advice....almost a disaster! The National Hwy Traffic Safety data notes that approximately 56% of towed RV's are UNDER trucked! ( sorry, not elegant prose )

Good luck....PM me if you wish to discuss further....Zigi
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:22 PM   #6
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We tow with 2012 Ram 5.7 and is has power to spare and is fully capable of our trailer, which has a heavier tongue load than yours. The purpose of a weight distribution hitch is to distribute weight among truck and trailer axles.

A late model half-ton truck with the large engine matches up to your trailer well. Unless you need to carry heavy loads in the bed. So the problem with half-tons is not power, brakes or stability, it's payload capacity. For example we carry bicycles, a small generator, and trailer hookup accessories in the bed.

Not much is said about the benefit of newer electronic trailer sway control systems that counter trailer sway by applying selective braking to the truck. I suspect it is at least significant when considering stability.

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Old 01-17-2013, 11:30 PM   #7
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3/4 ton, Nuff said. Brand, your choice. Fuel, diesel has more tork and will last longer, gas is cheaper and more easily found. Get a rig and go camping and enjoy yourself.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:30 PM   #8
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There are BAD drivers out there... and even the best of us don't tow a trailer every time we go on a drive. I've always believed that an expert at any trade can produce good results even with substandard tools, but a tyro can be helped immensely with top quality tools.

So your "right" decision will be determined by a number of factors.
  • how often will you be traveling?
  • how difficult will the terrain be? Rocky Mountains?
  • how much stuff do you want to carry along?
  • can you afford a separate "daily driver" or do you need your tow vehicle to do double duty?
  • what do you need in a daily driver?
  • size of Airstream - IMHO a 27-28 footer is 3/4 ton territory
  • Can you make money with a heavy duty tow vehicle (as a snow plow in Michigan?)

It's only my opinion and it's worth what you're paying for it - but I love my 3/4 ton and I have a 25 footer. I rarely "need" that excess capacity, but when I have needed it... I've REALLY needed it. I think you CAN get by with a 1/2 ton, but it will be a determining factor in the routes and grades you can tackle comfortably.

(Many people make a good case for going ahead and getting a 1 ton... simply because they're easier to find and it's easier to get good deals.) I would definitely get 4 wheel drive if I had it to do over. Oh and an OEM backup camera.

Paula
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:59 PM   #9
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Note that the folks using 3/4 - 1 ton trucks are pleased with them, and those actually using late model 1/2 ton trucks are equally content.

So flip a coin, you really can't lose, they all do the job well.

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Old 01-18-2013, 12:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Note that the folks using 3/4 - 1 ton trucks are pleased with them, and those actually using late model 1/2 ton trucks are equally content.

So flip a coin, you really can't lose, they all do the job well.

doug k
Ditto
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:27 AM   #11
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I have owned and towed with both 1/2 ton and 3/4 ton pickup trucks. With the 1/2 ton trucks I towed three different 30' trailers that I previously owned and the 25' trailer I own now. This demonstrates that either truck size will pull the weight of the trailer, if properly equipped. Though, either size pickup might struggle in the mountains if the engine size is not adequate and/or it is not geared correctly. Either truck will tow the load safely, as long as the payload is not exceeded.

So it really depends on what you will carry in your truck and how you load your trailer. I suggest you make a list of items you will carry in the bed and inside the truck, then add up the weight of those items. Add that to the weight of passengers, pets, the weight of your hitch, and the tounge weight of the trailer. Remember that the tounge wieght varries each time you load the trailer, 10% to 15% of the trailer weight. Give yourself a little wiggle room for extra items in the truck that you do not anticipate. That should give you an idea of what size payload to shop for.

The reason I recently moved up to a 3/4 ton truck with my 25' trailer is because the payload of the 1/2 ton was not adequate for my needs. When I weighed my 1/2 ton truck and 25' trailer at the Cat Scales and did the calculations, I found that I had exceeded the truck manufacturer's rated payload when loaded to travel with all of my gear.
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:48 AM   #12
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Question There are many opinions......

......on this subject.

IMHO the goal is NOT....."when towing the AS, I don't even know that the trailer is there".
Not aware it's there doesn't equate to safe.

The AS factory specs/weights are notoriously light, adding 300lbs to TW and trailer weight will bring you closer to reality.
FWIW>>>The loaded TW of our 25' is 1200lbs. (w/Hensley)

As others have noted payload is important when loading for camping.
Make note of the front and rear TV axle ratings, TV tire load ratings and trailer axle & tire rating. Those are the important "limits" as to what you can carry/tow safely.

Just as important....a quality hitch & receiver, proper sway & WD set-up..(CAT scale,level rig) and brake controller.

ps...Good Luck & Welcome Aboard

Bob
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream330 View Post
I have been going around in circles trying to select the right TV for my future AS. Am looking at the 27-28' with GVWR OF 7600#. Have just read about two miles of very good threads which has me confused. Also just returned from the Ram shop and the Chevy shop. (Ford tomorrow) looking at half tons. Both show tow capabilities in the 9500-10,000# range so overall weight should not be a problem. The Chevy 1500CC with a short box and 6.2 engine is actually rated at 10,600 with 3.73 axle. They tell me it also will take a tongue weight of 1121 WHEN OUTFITTED WITH THE PROPER HITCH. The 27FB tongue is 791#. This seems to be plenty of truck as I would be 3000 # in reserve on tow capacity and about 130 # under the tongue weight before hitch and propane. I want to set things up responsibly and safely to tow in wind , mountains , etc. What is confusing me is that the more I read the more it feels like I need a Caterpillar tractor to safely pull even the smallest load. Am I missing something or would I have a safe rig as long as I stay inside the specs? Having read all the threads it seems there is a large contingent that believe you need to have lots of capacity in reserve. In this case i would have reserve tow capacity but marginal toungue weight reserve which i believe could be safely and honestly offset by a high quality hitch system as i have been reading about. Really appreciate any help I can get .
You aren't too far from Can - Am RV Center up in London, Ontario. You can drive various combinations, also get some good advice from Andy. I have used a Suburban to haul a 28' Safari w/slide. But that heavier than the 27FB. I now use a Diesel, and don't regret it.
Jeff
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:48 AM   #14
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As others have pointed out, the "payload" question is just as critical as the other numbers issues. Figure out the weight of the people, pets and stuff you will pack along, and make sure the TV can handle it.

After the math questions are answered, in my opinion this becomes more of a personal choice. I think most would agree that a half-ton is "good enough" and that a 3/4 ton is "better". With no personal judgement here, the deciding question may be when it comes to vehicle issues are you a person to whom good enough is good enough, or do you tend to choose better? Neither choice is right or wrong.
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:16 AM   #15
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Consider "good enough" and "better" for a moment. Is a truck that costs more to buy and service, rides rougher, handles worse, uses significantly more expensive fuel "better"? When the "good enough" has more power and capacity than I ever need?

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Old 01-18-2013, 09:51 AM   #16
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Too many choices are making me crazy!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Airstream330 View Post
I have been going around in circles trying to select the right TV for my future AS. Am looking at the 27-28' with GVWR OF 7600#. Have just read about two miles of very good threads which has me confused. Also just returned from the Ram shop and the Chevy shop. (Ford tomorrow) looking at half tons. Both show tow capabilities in the 9500-10,000# range so overall weight should not be a problem. The Chevy 1500CC with a short box and 6.2 engine is actually rated at 10,600 with 3.73 axle. They tell me it also will take a tongue weight of 1121 WHEN OUTFITTED WITH THE PROPER HITCH. The 27FB tongue is 791#. This seems to be plenty of truck as I would be 3000 # in reserve on tow capacity and about 130 # under the tongue weight before hitch and propane. I want to set things up responsibly and safely to tow in wind , mountains , etc. What is confusing me is that the more I read the more it feels like I need a Caterpillar tractor to safely pull even the smallest load. Am I missing something or would I have a safe rig as long as I stay inside the specs? Having read all the threads it seems there is a large contingent that believe you need to have lots of capacity in reserve. In this case i would have reserve tow capacity but marginal toungue weight reserve which i believe could be safely and honestly offset by a high quality hitch system as i have been reading about. Really appreciate any help I can get .
You are going in circles because there is no "ideal" solution. There are many, many compromises available, most of which will work. As you have read above there is a valid and useful point in every post depending - and this is key - on what you value most.

In general, to summarize above - lighter = lower cost to operate = occasionally under-powered/under capacity. Where will you tow most of the time and with what load? Mountains or on the flat? Is the vehicle a daily driver, as well, or a dedicated tow vehicle?

I agree with the observation of buying more than you think you might need since many - I sure did - add to the kit more than what we thought we needed. "Dear, look at this great picnic tent and bug fly." or -"Maybe we should bring a generator since we won't have electric in that State park." or - "This air compressor will be great . . . " Etc., etc. If you are thinking about 1/2 ton consider 3/4 ton. If you think 3/4 ton is the bare minimum give a look at 1-ton. For the trailer you are considering give the 3/4 ton a look.

As above, most factory specs leave out a lot. I seem to remember that truck weight doesn't include oil and fuel. Check it out. Trailer Life has just released its 2013 Towing Guide. You can find the previous Towing Guides on line. This will help a lot with terminology and most important, how to calculate realistic towing capacity for the truck you are considering.

How 'bout heavier? OK - more expensive to operate = gobs of power = now you can calculate your towing capacity from info above and other resources.

By the way - longer = more stable tow platform = slightly more difficulty to back.

Another compromise - 2WD = lower maintenance = higher towing capacity = Darn! I sure wish I had 4WD instead of this shovel and stuff to self-extract.

I tow our 25' Safari, 7300 lbs GVWR, with a 2WD 3/4 ton crew cab long bed diesel. (Sheesh!) Even with the stuff I put in the pickup we have plenty of safety margin but we would overload the 1/2 ton. My choice is to pay the higher cost to own and operate the diesel. I'm learning how to back The Beast but it takes me more time - I think - to do it safely. 4WD is attractive if we ever replace The Beast. Others would not recommend my choices. (After very little experience, I wouldn't entirely make the same choices.) You will choose your own compromises but don't let it make you crazy.

Last point - last year because of a "minor equipment problem" I towed our trailer out of the Blue Ridge with a rented 3/4 ton gasser of a different brand. The engine down-shifted often where my diesel - in cruise - would add a little fuel and keep rolling along. Is down-shifting unacceptable? Of course not - as long as that's not your primary operating area. The answer comes back to compromises.

Keep studying. Ask for advice. Buy a truck. Get a great WD hitch, brake controller, etc., etc. Load it. Weigh it at a CAT scale. Run it. It will all work out.
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:53 AM   #17
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Nearly every vehicle discussed on the forums can "pull" the trailer. Just like helping "pull" a vehicle out of the ditch beside the road. But many vehicles capable of towing have a maximum recommended trailer weight. There is often a number for the total weight of the trailer and tow vehicle (GCW) added together. But the major concern for me was the payload capability of the towing vehicle.

My 25FB Airstream currently has a tongue weight of 1,175 pounds and it is not fully loaded for a trip. I coupled that with the weights of myself and wife and a few items we would like to take with us.

My Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel had no problem pulling the trailer (tongue weight for that trip was 1,150 pounds and just me in the car) from the dealership from Los Angles to Phoenix through the mountains. At that time. it was over the recommended trailer weight for my year car. After my wife and I loaded a lot of the stuff in the trailer and filled the trailer 34 gallon fresh water tank, we crossed the scales and were overloaded in both the tow weight of the trailer and the GVW of the Mercedes as well as the front axle weight rating. The car was working harder to pull the 850 pounds in new eight added to the bare trailer.

I found that there was little or no excess payload carrying capacity that would meet our needs in the 1/2 ton pickup arena. We could not put two additional people in a crew cab let alone their supplies in the bed or perhaps a couple of generators with gasoline.

I started researching in the 3/4 ton pickup arena. I am working on a tow vehicle solution in this arena that will have the excess payload capacity to take whatever we might wish with us along with people in the back seat of the crew cab.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:27 AM   #18
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Toyota specs for cargo capacity include a full tank of fuel. So you don't have to add another 200# to the curb weight for fuel.
The Trailer Life tow ratings are just that; "TOW RATINGS". They do not indicate the cargo carrying capacity of a specific TV.
For example: The Tundra Double Cab and Regular Cab models have the highest rating of all Tundra models at 10,100#'s. The cargo capacity of the Double Cab is about 1500#. They say the average weight of passengers is 150#. Don't know where they found such small people.
Based on these figures: if the tongue weight of the trailer fully loaded and ready to travel is 750#. That leaves 750# for all passengers and cargo loaded into the truck.
I for example normally have 3 passengers. Their weight totals 400 pounds. So that leaves only 350 pounds of wiggle room for items you may want to carry in the Truck.
Most if not all 1/2 ton trucks are in this ball park. So if you plan to carry a lot of extra stuff, a 3/4 ton may meet your needs.
I just bought a Tundra to replace my 3/4 ton Dodge. Wanted more horsepower and better mileage and don't carry a lot of extra stuff. Spare tire for the trailer a BBQ and 14 gallons of potable water. That's about it,
So for what it's worth.
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Old 01-18-2013, 10:43 AM   #19
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Ram 1500 specs for capacity include driver and passenger. You don't have to add those either. The w.d. hitch puts some of that payload on the trailer axles, you can subtract that. My life is not in danger.

Did I mention that in traveling from one coast to the other with my Airstream and Ram 1500 5.7 Hemi 4 x 4 my gas pedal has never been to the floor. $25k plus tax and license brand new, with nice options and factory brake control, trailer sway control.

doug k
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:44 AM   #20
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"Not knowing that the trailer is there" is a euphemism for "an easy tow". The only problem with the dually is the mpg....that's why if I had a mulligan I would opt for a one ton Ram ( no dually). My friend who owns such a vehicle and a similar trailer as I, reaches 14mpg while towing and 19 otherwise.
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