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Old 08-11-2014, 06:34 PM   #1
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charlotte , North Carolina
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Please sort me out! First timer

Ok, so I began my AS search a few months ago and have some good prospects but I can't seem to get a good answer about my tow vehicle! Every one I meet has a different opinion...

I'm looking, predominantly, at late sixties through early eighties 27-32 foot models mainly rear bedroom models. I've seen statistics and models that vary from 5,000ish lbs to 7,500ish lbs.

The vehicle I planed on towing with is a 2008 Honda Ridgeline with four wheel drive. Im sitting here with the manual open to the information on towing and quite honestly its confusing.

The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is 6,050 lbs
the gross axle weight rating (GAWR) 3105 lbs front
3245 lbs rear
the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) 10,088 lbs

I realize this is very close even if I get the lightest of the trailers I'm looking at. Is this life or death situation, honestly? I will not be moving the trailer too often and mainly in the relatively flat areas around Charlotte, NC. I plan to live full time on some property I have. Though, I would hope to make it up to the mountains a few times a year...

Knowing that the Ridgeline was questionable I started browsing around at other kinds of trucks and I just don't love what I'm seeing. This is shear personal preference and what I'd be using the vehicle for when I wasn't towing. I am a landscape designer, and do some masonry, so what I'd like is a large Chevy or ford work van like a 350 with a towing package. That way I'm not loading and unloading tools every day or getting them caught in the rain and when its not being used as a tool hauler I could throw a mattress in it and have a guest house, lol.
I looked up the towing capacity on a 2008 Chevy express g 3500 and it is listed as having a towing capacity of 10,000 lbs and I don't think that's with the towing package. I believe I read that with the towing package this number jumps to 14,000. Sounds good, right? I thought so but then someone pointed out that the vans are very light and may be "bullied" around by the weight of the trailer.... so now I don't know what to think! I understand that the van is light weight but could it be weighted down with tools or sand bags? I hope to hear a yes, but give me the honest truth...

Thanks so much in advance to all who take to time to help educate this newbie! I'm new to the forum and have already been blown away by the information and knowledge available and how friendly and willing to help people are! I hope to be joining you as an AS owner soon and I hope to do so safely, lol.

PS what area of the forum is the most appropriate the post pictures of the AS I view to get member opinions?

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Old 08-11-2014, 07:01 PM   #2
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What is it rated to tow? What size motor? A lot of people tow with mini vans, so I don't know why it would be a problem. I would call can am rv , they are very helpful.

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Old 08-11-2014, 07:18 PM   #3
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All the ratings get confusing don't they. Then add in that Airstreams seem to get heavier the newer they get.
Just to start, and get a handle on things, check the Trailer Life towing guides.
Trailer Towing Guides | Trailer Life Magazine

Match your prospective TV with the equiptment listing in the guide against the weight of the trailers you're interested in.
From what you've mentioned an E-250 or 2500 van looks like a good choice.

Good Luck,
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:29 PM   #4
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"Tow rating" is almost meaningless in the world of Airstreams since most AS' weight less than the "tow rating" of most light trucks. And, as some have pointed out, Andy Thompson of CanAm has adapted many lighter vehicles to safely tow an AS. They key thing, in my opinion, is not to exceed your vehicles payload capacity. There are lots of threads on this forum that address this issue. I encourage you to use the Forum's Search Function and look for threads that address the things that go into calculating "payload capacity."

A quick peek (by me) of the current Honda Ridgeline (i.e., 2014) spec sheet indicates that vehicle has a payload capacity of about 1,400 pounds. That could be a problem since that figure is intended to include the tongue weight of the trailer, cargo and passengers (it usually already includes some assumption for the driver.) The tongue weight of an EMPTY modern AS 30 footer is about 900 pounds. That would not leave a lot of capacity left over for your spouse luggage and whatever else you might carry.

i would definitely make a call to CanAm to get their perspective on this.
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:39 PM   #5
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Hello metal jacket,

I am not familiar with the ridgeline. My son has an odyssey and it is rated to tow something like 35oolbs. It is two wheel drive. If the ridgeline has a conventional rearend, then tow capacity will go up some. I would guess 5000-6000 but, your manual should state a number.

I caravan and there are people who use 2500/3500 american vans to tow and they are outstanding tow vehicles. They are just as heavy as a 2500 pickup (which I have). You lose a little bit of rear vision in a van but, they share the brakes, transmission, rearend with 2500 pickups. The trailer will not push a van around at all. Not an issue. Great for storage, etc.

My trailer is a 1987 29ft narrow body. It weighs in at approx 6500-6800 lbs when I am on my way out. Half tank of water, food, etc. Airstream website lists the trailer at 5800lbs but, this ignores awnings, a/c, water, gas bottles. chassis is rated at 6800lbs.

My 2500 pickup weighs in at approx 6500lbs so it handles the trailer very well. Gas mileage isn't great(10.5 - 12.5) but, a very good tow vehicle. Big brakes, four wheel discs, heavy trans, big rearend, e load range tires, great load carrying capacity for all the stuff I carry. small air compressor, generator, hyd jack, tools,ladder, extra bearings. extra elec brakes left & right, bikes, and plenty of misc.
One impt item is load capacity of tow vehicle. My pickup is something like 2000lbs - 825hitch weight so I can carry 1200lbs in the bed. My tow capacity is 9300lbs on a 2003 gmc 2500hd, 300hp.

Airstream trailers got heavy as they went through the eighties. The airstream website lists weights for trailer by year, model, & length. It is a little hard to find on the website but, it is there. Wide bodies came along in 1994. They are heavier than narrow bodies. Older models used more plastic for head lockers vs. red oak.

Hope this is a start for you.
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:03 PM   #6
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charlotte , North Carolina
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Amazing! Thank you all so much! I feel better and will start hunting down a van! This has been a life long dream of mine and it seems like all of a sudden everyone I know has very certain opinions about what I'm doing, including how to tow, though they don't actually have much experience.... So it's great to hear from people who have actual hands on knowledge!
Again, I can't express how much I appreciate this forums existence! I may have scared off without it!
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:15 PM   #7
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Don't tow with the Ridgeline.

A one-ton van would be an exceptional combination (a 3/4 ton might work nicely too). Whoever said that these vans were light must have been comparing it to a big rig. With a curb weight of more than 2.5 tons you have plenty of weight to get the job done right. Plus you'll have the payload capability to handle all of the bricks that you might want to haul.
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Old 08-12-2014, 05:24 AM   #8
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Tow with whatcha got!

IMO many people getting into Airstreams often worry too much about the tow vehicle, throwing too many variables in the equation, and may miss out on a great part of American life.

You are in the ball park with your Ridgeline and the trailers you are looking at.

Focus your time and research to find the trailer you really want and buy it.

Set it up with a good weight distribution hitch and tow your new trailer around with the Ridgeline. Short trips first and then maybe a few to nearby campgrounds.

If you are happy with the rig you can leave it as-is..... or maybe make some simple cooling, tire, spring or gearing updates.....or take it to CanAm.

If you are not happy with it, you will know a whole lot more about what you want/need in a new tow vehicle.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:21 AM   #9
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I have towed and carried far more than "designed" limits.

I almost hurt myself and others...badly.

"Can it be done"? Sure! Maybe even safely.

"Should it be done?"...see above.

Many factors arise out of experience. Others have shared the "wisdom"... Your decision to heed or reject. Remember, you are accountable for your actions, so I applaud your "asking questions".

We tow a 1999 34' Excella.
It is nearly 10k pounds.
We use a 2012 Silverado standard bed, 2500 Duramax with Allison transmission and 4x4
Hitching via ProPride for sway control and weight distribution
RVS camera system

We are well within the "designed" performance envelope. This has been helpful in maintaining control in evasive maneuvers. YES, people treat you like a Nuisance 18 wheeler and cut in front of you, pass improperly, etc.

So, having a teeny bit or a lot of "residual" capability may be important...your call.

This is said to burst the bubble before you take these "sage" words to heart. Get "proper" vehicle that can handle your application with 15-20% reserve.

For instance, I was scoffed at for wanting 4x4... I have needed it three times... Others have appreciated it when they see in need. All it took was a twist of the selector and the capability was there. Beats calling for tow truck.
The first time was a RV park which had just laid fresh gravel. I swith ed to 4x4 and easily pulled and parked while others were throwing rocks with rear wheel drive.

Finally.. A screen door is a wonderful invention...putting on a submarine is a LOUSY APPLICATION!
Peace and Blessings..
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:26 AM   #10
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I agree with wayward. Weight distribution puts the tongue weight on both the tow vehicle and trailer. From what I understand , the stiff suspension of the heavy trucks can beat up an airstream. I would try the ridge line first, why spend more than you have to.
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Old 08-12-2014, 06:59 AM   #11
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5,000 pound max towing capacity

You don't mention if your Honda has the towing package. This is very important as it would include a transmission cooler, frame hitch and larger capacity alternator, among other things.

I found a reference to the maximum tongue weight of 600 lbs. at a Ridgeline owners forum but another post said it was 500. Your owner's manual should have a section on towing capacity, please look there. If there is no mention of it, call your local Honda dealership and ask them. Also ask them the maximum trailer weight, it may differ from the towing capacity. It does on my '04 4Runner.

Edmund's lists the 2008 Honda Ridgeline as having a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 lbs.
2008 Honda Ridgeline RT Crew Cab Pickup 3.5L V6 4x4 5-speed Automatic 5.0 ft. Bed Features and Specs

Weights and Capacities
** When adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades.
DRIVE TYPE Four wheel drive TRANSMISSION 5-speed automatic Engine & Performance
BASE ENGINE SIZE 3.5 L CAM TYPE Single overhead cam (SOHC) CYLINDERS V6 VALVES 24 VALVE TIMING Variable TORQUE 245 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm HORSEPOWER 247 hp @ 5750 rpm TURNING CIRCLE 42.6 ft

Rich & Yvonne
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:42 AM   #12
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You're asking an internet forum for good advice? People with big tow vehicles will warn you that you will die and kill everything nearby if you use anything less. People with small tow vehicles will tell you they tow fine and life will be miserable with anything more.

What you will need is most probably somewhere in the middle. It's an Airstream, nothing tows better.

Get the Airstream first, we often buy something different than what we thought we needed. Then find a tow vehicle to match you needs with and without the Airstream.

The little Honda truck handles well and has a strong body/frame structure; with some hitch receiver reinforcement it might work well for your towing and personal vehicle needs. Trailers work well for hauling masonry equipment.
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:43 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by richw46 View Post
** When adequately equipped, which may require engine and/or other drivetrain upgrades.
That part is key. All things that affect factory towing ratings are not dire.

For base model manual tranny F150 has a factory towing rating of only 1500 lbs!

That is 4000 - 5500 pounds less than similar models with automatic transmissions.
Over two tons!

Same brakes. Same hitch. Same radiator. Same frame. Same suspension.

Why? Because the reverse gear ratio in the manual transssion is much higher than in the automatic. Along with cheapo OEM tires and the factory rear axle ratio of 3.08

By conventional wisdom, my truck's factory tow rating makes it unsafe to pull the Airstream?? Hardly.

After a few camping trips, I upgraded to a heavy duty clutch to handle slippage when backing uphill, put larger D-range tires on, and lowered the rear axle gear to 4.10. Nice tow package and WAY cheaper than a new truck.
2006 Safari SE FB
2000 F150 4.2L
2011 F250 6.2L
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Old 08-12-2014, 03:55 PM   #14
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I think, unfortunately, a lot of this information about clutches and tires is lost on me.. It's hard for me to grasp the physics of why this would make a vehicle that's rated under pull so much more..
As for the ridgeline it doesn't even have a hitch yet much less a tow package. I have access to a Porsche cayenne with a heavy duty hitch that I had planned on using to get the AS home, if I found one before i figured out my truck situation. I actually have 2 trucks the 08 ridgeline and a 2000 ford ranger with a camper top. The ranger I use for a work truck the ridgeline when I'm not covered in mud and sweat so the miles are very low. So, I'm into selling both of them and finding a big work van that covers what I need out of both trucks, and my dog will love it!! I think I can find a nice van for what I get for them and it seems that the van could pull any of the models I've looked at so I'm sold.

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