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Old 04-10-2016, 04:48 PM   #1
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Tow Vechicle Formula

Does any one know how I can calculate what I want to use as a tow vehicle and the Airstream we want to purchase?

Weight of car verses weight of trailer?
Braking capability of the car and trailer?
Tongue weight of the trailer?
Horse power & Torque of the car?

If you know of a website, could you share the link?

Thanks

Lee...
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Old 04-10-2016, 05:29 PM   #2
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There is no such thing.

Some people believe that you need the heaviest truck you can find to tow anything safely.

Others believe that a smaller vehicle is the better choice, especially if it sports independent suspension and a lower centre of gravity.

Where there is some, but not total agreement, is on the importance of payload. Most members of this forum seem to agree on the importance of not overloading a vehicle.

Personally speaking, I have always ignored tow ratings, as I believe most of them to be meaningless, but I have paid close attention to payload, axle and tire ratings.
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Old 04-10-2016, 06:43 PM   #3
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The ultimate tow vehicle. You too can be envied by all the biggest truck or stay home crowd.
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Old 04-10-2016, 07:37 PM   #4
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Weight - Tow vehicle and trailer should be about the same weight. Variance is possible, but generally a balance is good target specification.

Braking is usually not a problem if the tow capacity of the rig is not exceeded and the driver is conservative. Most new tow rated vehicles have front and rear brakes that are of the disk type. AS trailer brakes are usually drum type, but viable to stop the trailer.

Tongue weight shoule be 10-15% of the trailer weight.

Power and torque - Assume you need 200 for a small trailer, 300 for a medium trailer and 400 for a large trailer. Note that it does not take much to tow slow or flat and it takes a lot to run at the limit over a 12,000 ft pass.

A 3/4 ton with a diesel will pull most trailers with no problem. The one in AWs post is even better. It's just the wrong color. They have to be yellow to be fast or white to be safe, but that is another thread.

A budget minded owner can tow a lot of AS with a minivan if it is setup right. Read all the tow vehicle threads, the hitch threads, and the tire threads.

Go to the AS dealer in your area and sit in a variety of models and layouts. Decide what is the best fit for the traveling or camping lifestyle you desire. Now review the pricing to your budget. If your perfect AS is too expensive new, then investigate used. A well kept used coach can be purchased well below the cost of new and may have upgraded tires and batteries (read those threads). When you have decided on what you want to purchase, then go looking for a tow vehicle.

Good luck. Pat
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Old 04-10-2016, 07:50 PM   #5
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Members here tow mid-size (and larger) Airstreams with VW Touareg to one-ton pickup trucks, everything in between and some outside. They are very satisfied with what they have, especially if the tow vehicle and weight distribution/sway control hitch are properly set up for the task at hand. And that often requires professional help.

Start by knowing what Airstream you will use, what passengers and loads you need to carry in truck and trailer, and where and how often you will be using it.

Then post that here and you will receive answers ranging from VW Touareg to one-ton pickup trucks, everything in between and some outside. Or better yet, seek the help of an expert in towing Airstreams.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:22 PM   #6
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The Airstream is a 18' 1963 Caravel weighting in at 2800 lbs. The tow vehicle is a 1948 Ford Tudor powered by a 401" Buick Nailhead engine. The car should out weigh the trailer by 400 lbs.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
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The ultimate tow vehicle. You too can be envied by all the biggest truck or stay home crowd.
I can't take that to Sonic for ice cream or to the drive-thru ATM.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:35 PM   #8
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Could the car you already have be a candidate?
After finding too many limitations with my V6 Nissan Pathfinder, I bought a 1/2 ton V8 pickup.
Less limits-
How much trailer do you want?
They range from 16'-30' currently.
Weights range as much.
Wet bath or full bath?
Dinette or no dinette?
Lots of things to think about-
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:42 PM   #9
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I towed my 25' Safari with a Ford F150, no problem. When we sold the 25' and bought a 30', there was a big difference. After towing to FL and back last spring, I sold our Ford and bought a 3/4 TV. The 30' AS seemed to push the F150 around in curves, even though my hitch was set up properly. No problem with the 3/4 truck. The F150 may have been just fine but I didn't feel safe.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:43 PM   #10
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I tow our 2013 AS Flying Cloud 25' with a 2015 Mercedes Benz 350 Blutech Diesel. It pulls great,but through the mountains I use paddle shifting. Paddle shifting is incredible for high passes. If you don't paddle shift, the engine knows when it is working too hard and shuts the vehicle down and forces me to paddle shift. Great protection by MB.
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Old 04-11-2016, 12:45 PM   #11
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Since both vehicles mentioned are "vintage", I would suggest a very careful check out of the trailer suspension and all new drum brake parts for the trailer to be sure it's stopping power is actually operational. It may even be possible to get backing plates that support auto-adjust on those trailer drum brakes.

Also make sure the battery is the proper voltage for the trailer drum brake system (typically 12Vdc today) and that there is a functional break-away switch in case there is separation of the two vehicles while moving.

The rear springs of the tow vehicle might also need to be refreshed so the rear end does not sag too much when the trailer is attached. The target tongue weight range is 10% to 15% of the loaded trailer weight as reported by a trip across CAT scales like at a truck stop.
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Old 04-11-2016, 01:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeSchelin View Post
The Airstream is a 18' 1963 Caravel weighting in at 2800 lbs. The tow vehicle is a 1948 Ford Tudor powered by a 401" Buick Nailhead engine. The car should out weigh the trailer by 400 lbs.
Your engine is almost twice the size as our 3.5L V6 and we are towing a 23'.

There are many, many, factors to consider when evaluating a proposed TV/trailer combination. It is ironic that many of the better handling ones have a TV lighter than the Airstream (assuming the connection and setup is optimal.
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:35 PM   #13
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The best formula is to start with a 3/4 ton diesel pickup and buy any trailer you want.
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Old 04-11-2016, 02:59 PM   #14
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I think any modern 1/2 ton truck will tow any Airstream trailer ever made.
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