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Old 03-05-2014, 01:06 PM   #1
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tow vehicle

Hi,
New to the forums but not to RV camping. We plan to expand our camping trailer from a 17 foot to possibly 27 or 25 Flying Cloud for 8 month out of the year at retirement in a little less than a year.

Now that we have settled on a trailer,we have been looking at tow vehicles. As I have been reading as many postings as possible, it seems that many people are using 3/4 ton truck. However, when I look at the literature, a 1/5 ton 3.5 l , V8 gas engine would be just fine. I have been looking at 2013-2014 information. Husband doesn't see advantages with diesel.

Now I am asking the "experts". What do you think?

Thanks, Laurie
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:07 PM   #2
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There are advantages/disadvantages to both. I'm a moderate, match the tow vehicle to the trailer coupled with the most effective hitch (ProPride/Hensley) to ensure stability.

We tow our 25' with a Ram Express 1500 5.7 gas, not expensive to buy or maintain giving us plenty of power, braking and decent gas economy while being easy to get around town when not towing.
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Old 03-05-2014, 02:22 PM   #3
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3.5l V8 sounds smallish.

We tow our 31' with a 5.6L Nissan Titan -- it does a fine job and has for over 50000 miles.

Enjoy the journey,

Mike
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Old 03-05-2014, 03:43 PM   #4
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You can easily tow a 25 or 27' Airstream with a 1/2 ton truck (1/5?), and the only 3.5L engine that I know of is the Ford V6 Ecoboost, and it will work fine. The limiting factor on 1/2 ton vehicles are the weight capacity, not the towing capacity.

Most any of the newer 1/2 ton trucks with 6 or 8 speed transmissions with a towing package would work well for you, as well as a lot of SUV's with the same specs.

I tow with a 3/4 ton Diesel, and if I had it to do over again, I probably would not get a Diesel because of the cost of fuel, and the cost to maintain. Because of the size of our trailer, I would stay with a 3/4 ton.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:05 PM   #5
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I like to be comfortable, and the cost of a new PU was the same as my Mercedes ML. It tows great, I've towed over Tioga Pass and all over the US and Canada. The fuel economy varies depending upon terrain and head winds. Anywhere between 12 and 16 mpg. I hate Pickups so I prefer this ML. If I knew about Andy Thompson at CanAm RV I probably would have gone with the Chrysler 300. Maybe next time. I like the torque of the diesel and cost isn't much different than running premium. Overall I've run diesel cars for the last 20 years and on average I can get diesel for less than regular if you shop around.
What I really like about the car is that I can downshift (or up shift) in manual mode. This is great for the hills and saves on brakes.

Good luck in your decision.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gator.bigfoot View Post
Overall I've run diesel cars for the last 20 years and on average I can get diesel for less than regular if you shop around.

Good luck in your decision.
I'm interested in the statement 'I can get diesel for less than regular if you shop around'. Care to expand on that? Diesel is at a 20% premium over regular where I live, and has been for some time. Is the difference narrowing?
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dorrph View Post
Hi,
As I have been reading as many postings as possible, it seems that many people are using 3/4 ton truck. However, when I look at the literature, a 1/5 ton 3.5 l , V8 gas engine would be just fine. I have been looking at 2013-2014 information.
If you already have a 1/2 ton truck, you can make it work.

Beyond that, it isn't an ideal choice unless you're getting a regular cab truck and don't carry anything in the bed, because there isn't any capacity left. A crew cab 1/2 ton truck with five people and five duffel bags in the bed is overloaded even if it isn't towing.

Quote:
Husband doesn't see advantages with diesel.
Husband is correct
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:51 PM   #8
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You'll get mixed results here for sure.
I tow my 30 with a 1/2 ton.
Yes, it is very close to the limit on front axle GVW, rear axle GVW, CGVW, and payload.
It may be slightly over the limit on tongue weight.
It doesn't seem to bother the truck.
The truck doesn't seem to notice.
I already owned the truck before I bought my last 2 trailers. I made it work. It makes no sense to replace the truck when it has 34,000 miles and 2 payments left.
If I didn't already own a 1/2 ton truck, I might consider a 3/4 ton, but I doubt it.
We were at a rally in January with 89 trailers. Easily half were towed by 1/2 ton pickups. The people who make and sell trailers say they are 1/2 ton towable. The pickup manufacturer's claim a 1/2 ton can tow 10,000#. My trailer might weigh 8,500#.
As far as I'm concerned, diesel is not an option. Higher fuel and maintenance costs as far as I can tell- besides that sound and that smell-
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Old 03-05-2014, 07:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dorrph View Post
Hi,
New to the forums but not to RV camping. We plan to expand our camping trailer from a 17 foot to possibly 27 or 25 Flying Cloud for 8 month out of the year at retirement in a little less than a year.

Now that we have settled on a trailer,we have been looking at tow vehicles. As I have been reading as many postings as possible, it seems that many people are using 3/4 ton truck. However, when I look at the literature, a 1/5 ton 3.5 l , V8 gas engine would be just fine. I have been looking at 2013-2014 information. Husband doesn't see advantages with diesel.

Now I am asking the "experts". What do you think?

Thanks, Laurie
Hi. I have a 27FB Flying Cloud I tow with a 3/4 ton Diesel. I'm not an expert, but here's what I've learned since starting my Airstream journey last year.

Every decision has trade offs. There is no single right or wrong answer to any question when it comes to trailer, tow vehicle, hitch, tires, induction cooktop, grill (propane v. charcoal), etc; rather, pros and cons to every decision and it's critical to know what you're trying to accomplish so you know why you chose what you did.

For my needs, the advantages to the 3/4 ton diesel include exceptionally comfortable margin of torque, towing capacity and payload. As a vehicle designed/marketed for towing, it came with everything including auxiliary battery, huge brakes, integrated brake controller, excessive cooling systems for engine/transmission, great tires, exhaust brake/tow haul mode, etc. For the purpose of towing, it far exceeds my needs on every level which for some is inefficient but for my decision-making process fits the "better to have and not need than to need and not have" for a highway speed moving home. At the scales loaded for camping, I'm sub-6k# (with 17k# capacity) and a tongue of 1100 against a 1500# max. Plenty of "headroom", not near axle limits and plenty of payload. It doesn't even break a sweat (whether 7 hours on flatlands, climbing hills or coming down the other side of hills).

Disadvantages include its complete inefficiency as a "commuter car", and the premium price of diesel.

Everyone's mileage varies.

You've seen by now some people are happy modifying sedans that have no tow ratings to pull 7-8000# vehicles, and some tow 3000# trailers with 1 ton dualies. To each his/her own - so long as there's clarity of conviction behind each choice: presumably made after examining a sufficient amount of options and trade offs.

If you want to live within the numbers, a half ton gasser might fit the bill, and, it might not give you enough capacity to bring anything with you on a trip. What 1/2 ton 3.5L V8 have you looked at and what are its published towing numbers, axle ratings and payload capacity?

Whatever your decision - happy and safe camping!! I can't get enough! :-)



sufficient number of options/trade-offs.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:39 PM   #10
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Dorrph

I bought a new 5.7L Tundra, 6 speed tranny in 08 to tow my 31' (older, lighter) Airstream. I then bought a 24' Tradewind; I use it the most.

The Tundra has plenty of power and braking, but because it is only a 1/2 ton it is low on payload.

I recently bought a 34' (also older and lighter than new ones). My Tundra tows it just fine, but I know I will be bumping against the numbers on rear axle gross weight and the truck gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). If I were to buy a new TV today I would buy a 3/4 ton gasser with a 5.7-6.0L motor.

If you have a capable 1/2 ton TV, I would use it. If you intend to buy a new TV go for a 3/4 ton gasser.

Go camping and have some fun.

Dan

ps- my mom and her folks were all from Grand Rapids.
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Old 03-05-2014, 08:41 PM   #11
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Towing with ML

Quote:
Originally Posted by gator.bigfoot View Post
I like to be comfortable, and the cost of a new PU was the same as my Mercedes ML. It tows great, I've towed over Tioga Pass and all over the US and Canada. The fuel economy varies depending upon terrain and head winds. Anywhere between 12 and 16 mpg. I hate Pickups so I prefer this ML. If I knew about Andy Thompson at CanAm RV I probably would have gone with the Chrysler 300. Maybe next time. I like the torque of the diesel and cost isn't much different than running premium. Overall I've run diesel cars for the last 20 years and on average I can get diesel for less than regular if you shop around.
What I really like about the car is that I can downshift (or up shift) in manual mode. This is great for the hills and saves on brakes.

Good luck in your decision.
Gator.bigfoot
We tow 27 classic with a ML diesel The torque is great, drives smoothly and you are right about the manual shifting. Great daily driver. Look forward to seeing you on the road this summer.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:57 PM   #12
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Dorrph,

If your plans really do include being on the road 8 months out of the year you might want to give a lot of thought to getting a 3/4 ton. We tow our 25FB with an '08 Tundra and are very happy with everything about it. We have taken a few 5 to 6 week trips through the west but usually do trips anywhere from 4 to 10 days. We pack light and have never had a problem with weight issues. We carry a generator and an extra 6 gallons of water in the back of the truck. Sometimes we add on some firewood but not more than a few nights worth.

When you are on the road for months at a time there usually is an inclination to bring more "stuff" with you. Then there is the issue of securing a lot of this stuff so you might end up with a canopy or some other type of cover, all of which will add more weight. And then there is the ever present question, "What will you do with this TV when you are not out camping?" If it is going to be a daily driver a truck like the Ford Eco-boost might make a lot of sense. You will get much better mileage driving one of these around town. You won't see much different when towing though.

Lots of questions to ask yourself before you make the move. Good Luck.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:43 PM   #13
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A question about gear in the back of the pickup for two retirees on an 8 month tour. What in the heck are you guys bringing that does not fit in the Airstream and takes a 3/4 ton truck to transport it?

We are out 6-7 months a year and don't take a generator or gas because we have solar power. In some areas you can't transport firewood around because of tree killing bugs. The bicycles are on the back of the Airstream. Never used 30 gallons of water the trailer tank holds before we could refill.

From reading here over the years it looks to me like weekenders and vacationers, as well as full-timers are more likely to transport large quantities of gear than than retirees on extended tours. And are less concerned about dealing with an oversized truck as a daily driver when not pulling, which is most of the time.

I'm sure everyone is different in this regard. Each Airstreamer has to look at their particular need and budget.
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Old 03-06-2014, 12:27 AM   #14
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tow vehicle

Simple answer..

I have over thirty years experience with one ton trucks and trailers used at the 26,000 lb CDL limit. (I own many work trailers towed with one tons that EMPTY weigh more than my Airstream.)

Fact is, Airstreams just aren't very heavy, and they cut through the air pretty easy. My 31' Sovereign weighs only 6500 lbs. my sister has a fifth wheel camper that weighs over 14,000 lbs, it is towed with a 3/4 ton.

My half ton 5.3 L Chevy can travel from Arkansas to Tucson and back again and no hill is capable of making me drop below 70 MPH. This just is.

My short answer is that If I figured I needed a bigger truck than my 1/2 ton, I would skip over a 3/4 ton and go to a one ton Dooley to get two more tires worth of rubber on the road.

A 1/2 ton will do fine, and gas will do fine if you are not in the game for spending time in the shop.
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