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Old 04-04-2016, 08:09 AM   #1
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Tow Vehicle and Hitch Advice for 2016 Flying Cloud 28'

We finally joined the ranks and purchased a 2016 Flying Cloud 28'. But this was the cart before the horse purchase, so now I am looking for the horse (tow vehicle and hitch configuration). We live in Florida, and often travel to the NC Mountains to visit family, so I need something beefy and safe enough for our family of five. I'd prefer an SUV instead over a Pick-up so we would have the third row seating and storage capabilities. We also enjoy long (two week) summer trips and are were use to traveling in a motorhome; not cramped in a car.

The GVW of the trailer is 7,600 lbs with a Hitch Weight of 976 lbs.

Important Considerations for me:
  1. Least amount of sway & full control from passing Semi's
  2. Able to travel in the mountains
  3. Room for the family & dog
  4. Fuel Efficiency
  5. Overall price and affordability
  6. Tow Package requirements, Transmissions Speeds/Coolers, Break Packages, Etc.
  7. Low stress traveling
  8. Dependability
Let the opinions roll... Don't hold back. I am looking for all the Pros and Cons. The last thing I want is an great trailer that it too stressful to tow.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:46 AM   #2
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One of the more contentious issues on the Forum. Most people, myself included, are loyal to the brand of tow vehicle they have. Many believe that you need a one ton diesel, others a minivan with a reinforced hitch and, of course, everything in between.

Fundamentally, it usually comes down to payload. You have a family of five so lots of toys and camping equipment. Your tongue weight will be higher than you think, you want to go uphill effortlessly and you prefer a SUV.

Pretty tall order. Your looking at needing somewhere around 1800# of payload and a turbocharged diesel or gasoline powerplant.

I would google up Trailer Life's towing guide and start looking at brands/models that you prefer.

Keep in mind that the only payload number that is significant is the sticker on the driver's side door jamb. The manufacturers brochures all list the "when specially equipped" payload which is usually imaginary in any useful configuration. Salesman, almost universally, know diddley squat and many will cheerfully lie to your face to ink the sale.

Good luck,

Mike
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:06 AM   #3
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Given your requirements, my $0.02 is if you prefer an SUV, you should see if you can get your hands on a "Duraburb" - 3/4 ton Suburban with Diesel engine.

Alternatively a 4-door or extended cab 3/4 ton diesel would be my recommendation (see previous reply about range of options and opinions).

Big cab allows you to carry people and pets, bed allows you to carry plenty of toys, diesel gives you plenty of torque and exhaust brakes for downhill runs.

A Hensley designed hitch (either Hensley Arrow or the ProPride version) is my hitch recommendation to meet your anti-sway requirement.

Plenty of opinions on this too.

Good luck!
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:30 AM   #4
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How much money do you expect and can afford to spend on the truck and hitch? The will quickly narrow down your choices.
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:37 AM   #5
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sticker shock :(

hi all, fairly new to this game and taking my 31' Sov on it's "maiden" voyage shortly... was just starting to think about what type of hitch to use and got hit by this sticker shock for sway hitches wow ... hadn't budgeted $2-3k for a sway hitch ... ! Yikes .... what's an alternative option, apart from just not using one ..?! i have the original all clunky sway bars if they really do much ?

thanks, Nick
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:54 PM   #6
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To OP - Welcome. I have been here a short time myself, but value the advice I've gotten here greatly. The above ^^^ is great input.

We purchased a 27' FC in December. Following many inputs here, I bought a '16 Ram 2500 4x4 Crew Cab pickup with the Cummins turbo diesel engine in November.

I also opted for a ProPride hitch, ordered direct from Sean, and shipped to Patrick at Colonial Airstream.

We are complete noobies to towing. The Ram has enough torque that acceleration is effortless. The integrated trailer brake, as well as the diesel "smart" exhaust brake, mean downhills are very easy - just let off the throttle, and the truck regulates the speed.

Between the Airstream design, the ProPride pivot point projection hitch design, and the truck, driving on interstates is a non-event. We tow at about 65 mph, and get aroud 13.5 with the trailer; 17.0 overall (including non-hitched travel.)
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Old 04-04-2016, 05:34 PM   #7
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Nickclifford -- only the Hensley and Pro Pride hitches cost over two grand. They are the gold standard in sway prevention but, as you discovered, they are expensive ( (also heavy, if payload is tight)

Blue Ox, Reese and others make fine weight-distribution hitches with anti-sway that are perfectly suited to a wide range of applications and are a fraction of the cost. Properly set up, all will provide for a safe towing experience.

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Old 04-04-2016, 07:18 PM   #8
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Running some numbers here: Lets assume your tongue weight is 1000#. Add another 700# for 5 occupant of your tow vehicle. Even if you have no cargo/gear in your vehicle, you need 1700# of payload, which excludes pretty much all SUVs -- they don't make 3/4 ton SUVs anymore and Expedition EL or Land Cruiser have 1300# to 1400# of payload max.

I can think of the following options:

1) Get a Silverdao with Max payload package (~2000# of payload per door sticker), with 6.2 liter V8 and 8 speed auto.

2) Or get a 3/4 pickup (Ram, GM, or Ford). Diesel obviously helps with mountain travel, both up and down the grades, but you pay more upfront and will have higher maintenance/repair bills.

Since you want relaxed towing and no sway, get a ProPride hitch.
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Old 04-04-2016, 07:54 PM   #9
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The Dodge Durango, Mercedes GL 550 and the Toyota Sequoia are all capable SUVs with three row seating. I know two full timing families towing with the Sequoia, both are very happy with their choice.

Keep in mind that weight distribution will move a percentage of your tongue weight back to the trailer, typically around 20-25%.

We towed our 34' 1984 International, it weighs around the same as your trailer, for three years with a Honda Odyssey and a Hensley Hitch. It was an absolutely brilliant combination, stable as stable can be due to the low centre of gravity and the wide suspension stance of the Honda - and we were within all payload, axle and tire ratings.

We are moving to a Dodge Durango this year, but for non-tow related reasons. I haven't towed with it yet, but have heard great reports from those who have. I test drove a number of body on frame SUVs before settling on the Durango and was amazed that people put up with the wallowing ride and lack of directional stability of these vehicles.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:28 PM   #10
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My situation is very similar to the OP and my choice was a diesel Ford Excursion. I hope it lasts forever, that's all I'm going to say.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:06 PM   #11
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My friend had a Sienna minivan. 3500# tow rating. The payload was 1150# per door sticker -- Clearly a minivan will not work, unless you ignore the ratings and wish for the best.

There are vans that may work though. Some Ford Transits are rated to tow over 7000#, have the 3.5 liter V6 Ecoboost engine, and over 3000# of payload. I have not read any towing reports on them. A Ford forum might be the place to research them.

Nissan NV also has 8700# tow rating and 2000# payload.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:13 PM   #12
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Be careful when the inexperienced run some numbers for you. Our Airstream 25' FC (835 lbs factory hitch weight) and ProPride hitch (150 lbs w/stinger) adds 700 - 750 lbs to our truck weight after adjusting the gear in our trailer and weight distribution is applied. And we can get it lower than that with some relocation of components in the front of the Airstream.

Your requirements are quite large for five people plus dog plus storage capacity plus a heavy trailer. Heavy loads need heavy duty vehicles. You probably better look at 3/4 or 1 ton pickups without the glitz for the load capacity, a Hensley or ProPride hitch for the safety, and you can pretty much throw fuel efficiency out the window. Instead try to save some money up front by shopping carefully for a basic vehicle in the used market.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Be careful when the inexperienced run some numbers for you. Our Airstream 25' FC (835 lbs factory hitch weight) and ProPride hitch (150 lbs w/stinger) adds 700 - 750 lbs to our truck weight after adjusting the gear in our trailer and weight distribution is applied.
Doug, do you have a CAT scale ticket for the weight added to your truck?
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:25 PM   #14
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I have several over the years but you won't see them.
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Old 04-04-2016, 09:41 PM   #15
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Tow Vehicle and Hitch Advice for 2016 Flying Cloud 28'

I had a feeling you would not share your weight ticket.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:30 AM   #16
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We just purchased a new 30' International. Previously, we had the Flying Cloud 23d. I was concerned that our 10 year old F150 would not be able to comfortably tow the 30'.

Ended up with the 2016 Silverado with Max payload package with 6.2 liter V8 and 8 speed auto. So far, so good.

Best of luck and congrats on the trailer.
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:33 AM   #17
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Tow vehicle Recommendation

I own a 2015 Flying Cloud 28 which I recently took to Colorado and Utah through the Rockies. At the time, my tow vehicle was a 2012 Dodge Ram 1500 5.7 Hemi. The Dodge did a great job towing until I started going over the Rockies. I made it over some pretty steep peaks. A lot of the driving was in 1st gear at 40 MPH. Not fun or good for the truck. Going down the mountains was another challenge. The tow setting offered automatic downshifting when braking, but I felt the momentum down the mountains was too much and I often was propelled downhill like a missile. Conclusion: This is a great tow vehicle if you can avoid the Rockies altogether. Also, I would recommend rear airbag suspension with the Dodge 1500. The AS tongue weight is a little too much for the stock spring suspension and challenges the weight distribution hitch to the max.

If you someday want to tackle the Rockies or other similar mountains, I would recommend doing what I did and that is to buy a 2016 Dodge 2500 Cummins Turbo Diesel. I got it with the full bed so I can bring my motorcycle. I've had this truck for four months now and I would highly recommend it. I got it with the Big Horn trim. This truck gets superb mileage, has power to spare, a suspension to match and an exhaust brake!. If you get a whimpy tow vehicle, you will not be happy (or safe).
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Old 04-05-2016, 11:45 AM   #18
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I was opposite to you. Bought 2015 Tahoe, then bought 2015 FC 28. Had to trade Tahoe for 2015 Silverado 2500 HD Duranax diesel (ouch). Put ProPride hitch on and now feel safe, just less wealthy. The 28 has heaviest tounge weigh of all models which is why I went 2500HD.
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Old 04-05-2016, 02:56 PM   #19
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We are on our maiden voyage in our 28 Flying Cloud twin. Pulling with a 2500 Duramax & Blue Ox Sway Pro. This tows like a dream & I have no regrets. If I had a smaller truck I might be tempted by the Hensley/PP designs but I think it's not needed with a stronger TV. This is subjeective for everyone.
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Old 04-05-2016, 03:43 PM   #20
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Smashke--

Congratulations!

Hensley and Propride hitches are the gold standard, although like all things, nothing is perfect. With our 28' International, we use the Equalizr 4pt with 1000 lb bars. We find it excellent for both weight distribution and sway control. It is much lighter and Less expensive than the aforementioned hitches.

Our tongue weight (with two extra batteries) is 1280. The tongue weight you mentioned sounds like it's manufacturer's, not scale verified? The 28's typically run around 1000 or more with full propane, and it's a good figure for you to know.

Payload is going to be the first issue for you with that wonderful family (including the 4-legged member.) Totally with you on no pickup for the fam of that size, but US SUV's have moved away from diesel. So you can look at the payload/towing capacity of the Toyota Sequoia, and consider the extended Yukon Denali ( the only way to get the big GMC 8 in an SUV when we were actively liking in 2013).

You can/should also look at passenger vans for the payload and towing capacities, as they will by far give you the best passenger room. The new Ford Transits now have the 3.5l 6cyl Ecoboost engine which is a towing beast, and maybe Chevy/GMC have brought the diesel back. The Nissan van is a possibility, too, although we didn't care for the interior materials--depends in his finicky you are about what.

In our family, even though my wife hates vans, we needed the cargo capacity for our large but lightweight windsurfing equipment. After searching for a LONG time, she surprised me by pushing for the Sprinter. Rated to tow 7500 lbs and weighing about 7000 lbs with a GVWR if 11,000lbs, the one ton is the only choice in the line. Although ours is completely custom, I think the beautiful passenger van might work well for your family. The only iffy part here is that the 6cyl diesel, which has plenty of torque (we calculated "torque-to-the-pavement") with the big rear axle differential as being 5ft/lbs more than the 3/4 ton Suburban we used to tow with (non-diesel). But the horsepower is much less. So you'd have no problem accelerating your whole household quickly to 40 mph, acceptably to 50 mph and you'll get to 60 sometime later in the morning. With a headwind or upslope, the rig is working very hard.

My personal choice for you would be either the Transit if payload is adequate or the Chevy/Gmc van if same. The new Dodge vans are too new, IMO, to know how they'll work out. If vans are a complete turnoff, consider the Sequoia and the Yukon Denali for the large gas engine.
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