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Old 12-18-2013, 12:33 PM   #1
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2014 27' Flying Cloud
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Newbie Needs Help with Towing Questions

Hello! This is my first time posting in this forum - happy to be here! I am seeking expert opinions on some serious towing questions.

My husband and I are planning on buying a 28' Flying Cloud Airstream that we will live and travel in for 6-12 months. We have a new 2013 Toyota Tundra 5.7 liter V8 with factory installed tow package. My concern is primarily with safety: Is this a safe configuration of tow vehicle/RV?

Also, which hitch set-up would be best (safety-wise) for our situation: Hensley? ProPride? Others?

Finally, I know nothing about this sort of thing (but learning a lot!) and even less about which kind of trailer brakes I need and what to look for in that area. Any suggestions??

Again, we are looking for the safest configuration for our situation. Specs are listed below, and our Toyota tow vehicle has a factory installed tow package which includes the following: towing hitch receiver, trailer brake controller prewire, tow/haul mode switch, transmission fluid temp gauge, supplemental engine oil cooler, supplemental transmission cooler, heavy duty battery w/ 170 amp alternator and 4/7 pill connector.

Thank you for your time and helpful opinions and suggestions! If anyone would like to give us pointers on how to figure all of this out for ourselves, that would be much appreciated, too!

2013 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V8 4x4 Double Cab, Regular Bed:

Rear Differential: 4.300
Wheel Base: 145.7
Curb Weight: 5,625
GVWR: 7100
Max Payload: 1,515 - 1,640
Tongue Weight Capacity: 1,030
Max Towing Capacity: 9,900
Max GCWR = 16,000 (w/ tow package)

2013 Airstream 28' Flying Cloud:

Hitch Weight (w/LP & w/o options, water, cargo): 976
Base Weight (w/LP & w/o options, water, cargo): 5,979
GVWR: 7,600
Net Carrying Capacity: 1,621

When I add the Truck's GVWR (7,100) to the Trailer's GVWR (7,600), and then subtract this total (14,700) from the GCWR of the truck (16,000), I get the following number: 1,300. I am not sure how to interpret this number, though. How do I interpret this number, and does it represent a safe margin?

Thank you again for your help!!!
-Karin
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:13 PM   #2
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You're going to get lot's of opinions, probably based on other owners current setups. You'll find lots of people towing trailers your size with half ton trucks. I tow a 27FB with a SUV. Some tow the same trailer as yours with minivans and sedans.

What I've learned here as a rule of thumb for larger Airstream trailers.
  • Half ton trucks can tow any Airstream but probably shouldn't carry much else in the bed (at least heavy stuff).
  • Heavier & larger trucks like a 3/4 ton or more can tow any Airstream and can carry lots of stuff in the bed (ie motorcycle, golf cart, mountain of firewood, etc).

You'll get lots of advise on hitches. It just depends upon how much you want to spend. Airstreams seem to be more inherently stable than most other trailers. The Hensley and Propride are also the heaviest hitches so factor that into your tongue weight.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:20 PM   #3
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Your truck is fine and you are 1,300 lbs under the max so unless you collect rocks, which I did see a camper that was doing that, your good to go.

As for the hitch I would strongly suggest you look at the Andersen. Living full time with a Ha Ha or Pro will drive you to drink with the waisted time you will spend worshiping it.

If you are new to towing I would suggest you find a large parking area, truck terminals on weekends are great, and practice backing up and parking are right angles to the roadway. Just remember by the time you feel the trailer hitting the truck it is too late.
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Old 12-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #4
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Your truck is fine. See my avatar and signature?Click image for larger version

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Old 12-18-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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We travel and live in our Airstream 6 months a year carrying very light loads in the bed of our 2012 Ram 5.7 Ram. The Airstream is very well equipped to hold and provide our needs. If you need to carry substantial gear in the truck you may be challenged by payload limits.

You will need a good weight distribution hitch to distribute trailer tongue weight among the truck and trailer axles. The troublesome Andersen hitch will not do it (we tried it). We got fed up with that failed experiment and bought a ProPride (similar to Hensley). Towing safety and comfort in all towing conditions and excellent weight distribution are now taken for granted. Expensive but the best money you will spend for towing your Airstream.
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:09 PM   #6
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Thanks Everyone! HowieE, I will look into the Anderson hitch - thank you for the tip. So, are the Hensley and Pro hitches difficult to work with? No plans to collect rocks, but we are planning to get a cap for the truck and use the bed space for storage: a couple of bikes, some tools and camping equipment. We also have an 85 pound dog. Would that be pushing it too much? My husband has a little experiencing with towing, we will both need to practice! Kscherzi and m.hony, what kind of hitches do you have, if you don't mind sharing? Has anyone had any problems with steep grades - towing up or down? Any white knuckle moments, or sensing that the vehicle is not up to the task? Any suggestions for trailer brakes? Thanks again.
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:21 PM   #7
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Thank you, Doug. I will definitely look into all the hitches. Safety is the main concern, so we are willing to spend more for the safest configuration, if it comes to that. Is your Ram truck a 1/2 ton gas engine, then? (Sorry, I know little about trucks - steep learning curve for me!) We plan on getting a cap for the Tundra and using the bed space to store a few things, such as a couple of bikes, some camping equipment, and tools. In your opinion, would that be pushing it? I have been looking at the 25' Airstreams, just in case we need to size down, but the 28' is the one we are planning on buying. Thanks!
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:41 PM   #8
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I tow with a 2011 Tundra and while our AS is only 23 feet, I have always felt that we had power and handling to spare.

As to what you carry in the bed, putting a topper on is going to preclude just piling lots and lots of stuff in the bed of the Tundra. I think where the payload issues come in is when people are carrying bikes, plus generators, plus lots of other stuff. Sounds like what you are planning on putting in the bed of the Tundra won't be a big weight issue in terms of the payload.

Look up CrawfordGene (now just Gene) in the threads. He is towing a 27 with essentially the same drive train and engine that you have and he seems to be very happy with it.

We would like to move up to a 27 at some point and don't forsee getting rid of my Tundra. First half-ton pickup I've ever owned and I love it, even as a slightly gas guzzling daily driver.

I won't weigh in on the hitch conversation because I'm towing a smaller trailer with a relatively inexpensive EA-Z WD hitch which works great.

Just to echo a little bit on what HowieE said about practicing . . . after you finish in the parking lot, got find some interstate where there is truck traffic and get used to the feeling of when an 18 wheeler passes. I was all ready for this feeling of being pushed off the road, when in actuality, you get just the slightest feeling of being pulled to the center just before the semi passes you, but with the proper sway control, that's all you feel, or at least that has been my experience. The nice thing about AS is you just don't get buffeted around.

Happy camping.

Dana
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:56 PM   #9
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The secrete to towing a hill is to remember to come down the hill in the same gear you went up the hill.

Now that does not mean the 1/4 mile hump that you just went over and heard the transmission drop down a gear. That means the sustained hill that you knew you were climbing and waiting to get to the top. Failure to keep this in mind is what leads to brake failures.

If you gear down while descending that long hill you will most likely only need light application of the brakes.

If your truck has a Tow Haul Mode use it while descending. This will automatically drop the transmission gearing if you lightly touch the brakes. If speed still tends to increase a second application of the brakes will cause additional reduction.

Some people have Tow Haul engaged all the time while towing. This causes the transmission to remain in a lower gear longer while accelerating. I prefer to only use it in heavy traffic, for additional braking, and while descending a long hill. You will soon learn what works for you if you have it.

One additional comment that I hope you never have to use is this. If your trailer ever goes into an oscillation do not touch the truck brakes. Put your foot on the gas and apply the trailer manual brakes. Applying the truck brakes will cause the problem to increase.
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:57 PM   #10
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Speaking as the owner of a Hensley Hitch, with a backup camera it doesn't take any longer hitching a Hensley than it does any other model. It's really not complicated.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:07 PM   #11
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Thanks Dana, really appreciate the feedback. I will try and find Gene in the threads. My husband really enjoys driving his Tundra, and it is basically brand new so we do not want to get rid of it. The other possibility is to size down to a 25' AS to save some weight. The 28' seems to suit our wants and needs best, so we are hoping that will work out. So far, with everyone's great input here, seems like this could work as long as we are mindful of the max payload and find the right hitch. Thanks for the additional practice tips. Good thing we will have some time to practice and live in our AS before we hit the road long-term. One of the main reasons we chose AS is for their reputation for safety and handling (as far as trailers go). Icing on the cake is the great AS community and of course the appeal of the AS, along with all the other good stuff we have yet to discover. Many thanks.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:13 PM   #12
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Thanks HowieE, I appreciate all of this information. Hope we are never in an oscillating situation like that, but very good to know what to do in case it happens. I definitely like to plan ahead for tricky situations whenever possible.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:17 PM   #13
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Hi Andy, Thanks for your input on Hensley, that helps. Looks like I have my work cut out for me in researching hitches. It really helps hearing from all of you experienced Airstreamers.
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Old 12-18-2013, 03:26 PM   #14
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streaminlife - I use the Equal-i-zer 4-point hitch. It suits my needs. It does an effective job of weight distribution, I've never had a sway problem, not bothered by passing trucks, is easy and quick to hook up, not too heavy, has a decent price point, and didn't require me to drill holes in the frame or weld anything,

Every hitch has its pros and cons.
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