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Old 12-14-2014, 12:16 PM   #1
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Please Help - 2004 F150 Crewcab Tow Vehicle

We are close to making a decision on one (1) of two (2) used Airstream trailers. One is a used 2010 27 Flying Cloud (dry weight of 5,746) and the other is a used 2009 Airstream Flying Cloud 28 (dry weight of 5,700).

My 2004 Ford F150 5.4L crewcab came with a tow package to include a transmission cooler and frame mounted trailer hitch. The max. GCWR for the truck is 14,000 lbs and according to the manual, it can tow a max. trailer weight of 8,500 lbs. The dry weight of the truck is 5,305 lbs, and loaded with passengers and supplies will probably weight 6500 lbs. According to Ford information, a WDC hitch will increase the tongue weight to 990 lbs.

Are we going to be able to safety pull these trailers especially if we travel on the light side of loading the trailer? We are grateful for any guidance.
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Old 12-14-2014, 04:18 PM   #2
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Lot's of people tow 27 & 28 foot Airstreams with 1/2 ton pickup trucks so on the surface either trailer choice seems fine with your existing tow vehicle.

It occurs to me that 1,200 lbs is a lot of payload to put in the truck (not including the hitch weight as you have implied in your post.) What are you going to carry to reach this figure? Most 1/2 ton Ford pickups have a total cargo capacity of around 1,700 to 2,000 lbs., some have a bit more and some a lot less depending on the configuration. You will want to watch this figure as your total cargo weight (including hitch weight) as projected might be in the 2,200 to 2,300 lbs range. If you really are traveling that heavy, you might try the 1/2 ton for awhile and, if that is not comfortable, switch to a 3/4 ton later. So long as you don't go crazy at first with your 1/2 ton tow vehicle (e.g., go full time and continuously travel up and down the rocky mountains) you should have plenty of opportunity to "debug" and "tweak" the 1/2 ton setup to see if can work before you are faced with a decision to change your tow vehicle. You are highly unlikely to crash your rig and kill yourself on your first tow of either of these trailers because you are using a 1/2 pickup.

As you evaluate the posts which your question will undoubtedly evoke, please be prepared that some people will swear that you can tow a 34 footer with a Miata, and others will suggest that you need a Freightliner to tow a 16 foot Bambi. Read a lot, use the search function on this site to find other discussions on this topic, and make your own best informed decision!

Good luck and enjoy the road!
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Old 12-14-2014, 04:42 PM   #3
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I've calculated and re-calculated so many times during this last month! Makes my head hurt. If my weight numbers are correct, I'm under the max. GCWR of 14,000 pounds when combining truck, passengers, tongue weight, etc for the truck and the dry weight of the trailer plus cautious amount of supplies in the trailer.

When Bob Martel posted his reply, I felt like he was reading my mind! I think the part that made tremendous sense to me was "to debug and tweak" during our first flat-land trips close to home. For whatever reason (old brain), I hadn't given that plan much thought. I know that my DW and I will pack the truck and trailer like we use to when we were backpacking just to be on the safe side of the equation. Thanks Bob for your guidance.
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Old 12-14-2014, 04:55 PM   #4
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I think you'll be fine. Go have fun.
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Old 12-14-2014, 05:49 PM   #5
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There is more to it than GCVWR. GCVWR is largely about drivetrain. You will likely have the same problem I do with my 2006 F150 5.4/3.73 - not enough payload. My door label says passengers and cargo (includes tongue weight) is 1242#. What is yours? This controls the load on the truck frame, suspension and axles.

1. Dont use the dry weight. Assume you are going to load the trailer to GVW, 7300# or so. This is especially true if you don't have much payload rating left in the truck. Everything else will have to go in the trailer.
2. Assume 12% tongue weight - almost 900#. Add a driver and a passenger and presto.....you are there. Very little margin left for cargo.

Best advice is to load with these limits in mind and then go get it weighed. I use a local moving and storage company whose scales i have verified with a truck stop certified CAT scale. My trailer, unloaded, is over its dry weight by nearly 350# after all accessories and modifications are accounted for.

For load planning, you have to manage three numbers, TV GVWR, TV GCVWR, and TT GVWR. In my opinion, running near the limit of the two GVWR ratings may be OK, but you are going to want 15%-20% margin on the GCVWR rating or uphill and braking will be issues.

My TT GVWR is 1000# less than yours at 6300#, and i was doing good to get up 6% to 8% grades at 35 mph. On the 8% grade, 4 miles long, something overheated and i had to pull over to let things cool. I was unable to determine what the problem was. Prime candidate was transmission. I have since had it serviced and was told filter was clogged. I haven't been out towing since so I don't know if the service helped.

AnnArborBob has the right idea. Try it and see if you like it, but watch your loading to ensure you stay safe. Just don't be surprised if, like me, after a year you are seriously considering a 3/4T diesel TV.
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Old 12-14-2014, 06:31 PM   #6
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I would spend some time taking a look at what you actually need to carry in the truck. Our truck bed has very little in it and we travel a lot and far from home.

Maybe you have family to take along?
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:26 PM   #7
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Please Help - 2004 F150 Crewcab Tow Vehicle

80 something percent of TT GVWR is more likely. The TV is governed by axle rating. Other numbers are more recommendations given that tires are up to task.

Being slow on an ascent is nothing to be concerned over. It is the downgrade that matters.
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Old 12-14-2014, 10:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Al and Missy View Post
My trailer, unloaded, is over its dry weight by nearly 350# after all accessories and modifications are accounted for.
.
This doesn't clearly explain my situation. My trailer, when weighed unloaded, but not dry, was 1000# over the specified dry weight. When I accounted for all the added options, modifications, water, and propane, it was still 350# heavier than it should have been.

Al
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:06 AM   #9
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Another way to look at this issue is to accept that virtually any modern 1/2 ton pickup truck can pull virtually any Airstream in terms of the truck's published "towing capacity." Some truck configurations will make towing a heavier trailer easier or more comfortable due to gear ratios, engine torque and the like. But essentially any 1/2 ton pick will PULL your Airstream.

The real question is can the truck's tires, suspension, axles and frame CARRY THE WEIGHT that is being proposed? That is usually where a 1/2 ton pickup can come up short. To figure this out, determine the cargo capacity of your particular truck (it's often on the same door frame tag as the tire pressures) and then add up the weight of all your passengers, fuel, cargo, accessories, weight distributing hitch AND your trailer's tongue weight to see if you are close or over your maximum. If you are close or even over that figure, then you have some decisions to make.
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:52 AM   #10
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Quit worrying!
Git you that shiny silver trailer and go campin'!
Run what you brung!
1/2 ton campin' 4 years with no problemas!
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:27 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
I would spend some time taking a look at what you actually need to carry in the truck. Our truck bed has very little in it and we travel a lot and far from home.
You're right about this part of our plan. An empty TV is a happy TV when you are pushing the upper limits.
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Old 12-15-2014, 05:40 PM   #12
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I towed our 25' for 4 years with a 2003 F150 5.4L super crew. Kind of okay on the flat but lots of downshifts. Sorry on hills, really sorry in mountains. Marginal cargo capacity. Finally got a 2009 F150 with upgraded cargo capacity, and with the 6 speed trans we're much happier. I think you too will find that vehicle marginal for the job to be done
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