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Old 12-11-2016, 12:40 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicles

Hi,

My name is Ron. My wife and I are looking at a new travel trailer when we retire in about 15 months, wishing it was 15 days.

We purchase a Lance 1575 a couple of year ago to try out the life style before we dumped a lot of money into a travel trailer. After the two years we love it and look forward to spending as much time as our work schedules allow using the trailer in the Pensacola (northwest Florida) area.

We looked at the Air Stream at the start but got a little shocked by the sticker price, but after looking around the last two years at travel trailers, 5th wheels and class A's we always come back to the Air Stream, probably a 27' or larger.

The question now is towing. I have a 2014 Ram 1500, Quad Cab, V8 Hemi but it can't handle the weight according to the specs but does fine with the Lance.

I like the Ram but not married to it, just looking for what others use to tow and get some ideas. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Ron
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:44 PM   #2
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We are on our second Ram 1500 tow vehicle, a Hemi and now EcoDiesel. Both are excellent when the weight distribution is capable and properly set up.

I believe your truck has 3900 lb axles front and rear, and the wonderfully smooth and capable 8-speed transmission. What model (Laramie or?) is it, and what differential ratio does it have?

It most probably can handle the weight just fine, but not everyone's travel gear is the same. For us it amounts to carrying what we need for 6-7 months travel each year, which is often less than many need for a weekend. Our truck is not loaded heavy but our trailer is.

We've been pulling Airstreams since retirement going on nine years, and have no need for the cumbersome size, weight and expense of a larger truck. Have towed cross-country many times in every western and central state and much of the east. I would highly recommend the Hensley/ProPride hitch if you have lots of extended travel in mind for an absolutely stable and pleasant towing experience.
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Old 12-11-2016, 04:42 PM   #3
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Hello from Colorado and welcome to AirForums. The Airstream travel trailers aren't for everyone, but they are rather special. You may be attracted to their iconic aluminum body and their efficient, high quality interiors.

Tow vehicle selection is a game of numbers. Learn the "gross vehicle rate rating" of the Airstream model you are considering, then match that to the tow weight rating of the vehicle. You also need to consider the "gross combined weight rating" of the tow vehicle and trailer combined.

Diesel engines are more efficient and more expensive. Fuel economy is a consideration farther down the list as towing just takes more fuel. You will get used to 10 mpg with a gas V8, and about 13 mpg with the diesel. That has been my experience and I just don't fuss about it. Safe comfortable towing is more important to me.

dkottum is a very experienced Airstreamer and knows his tow vehicles. Most folks buy too big of a truck, like I did. And like dkottum says, the ProPride hitch makes conventional towing a lot safer. I'll second that one. We have a ProPride and like it a lot.

David
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Old 12-11-2016, 05:40 PM   #4
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We have the same truck except it's a 2013. We have travelled full time for just over three years and towed about 64,000 km. during that time. The truck has performed just fine towing our 28 ft. International.
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Old 12-11-2016, 07:47 PM   #5
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Ron,
You indicate you've only towed around the Pensacola FL area. That's pretty flat. The SAE J2807 standard was engineered around towing in pretty severe conditions.
See http://www.trucktrend.com/how-to/tow...-the-standard/ and https://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/...w-ratings.html for more-in depth info.
The company engineers had to fight hard against the bean counters and marketers to get a standard that Joe Sixpack could actually use. Now Joe can safely climb and descend the steepest grades in the Western US.
Towing in the flatlands is a completely different experience. You don't need to be as concerned about making the Airstream's drum brakes fade.
So, if you're satisfied with your current tow vehicle and intend to stay in the lowlands, keep it. It will also work fine on major Interstate Highways. If you take it over Towne Pass to Death Valley, you may start wishing for a larger tow vehicle. If you plan to make a habit of such, better get a bigger vehicle.
Happy trails, Dave the Scourge of the ION.
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:11 AM   #6
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Ron,
Seek out the trailer that you really want and buy it. Your tow vehicle will probably do fine for awhile depending on the specs. Invest in a good weight distributing hitch no matter which tow vehicle you own.
Go to the sticker on the door jam and give us the specs on the payload and gross axle weight rating. Take you truck to a scale and see what it weighs with you, wife and typical camping gear. This will give you some direction on the capability of the truck. Do you plan on putting a cap or tonneau cover on the truck?
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Old 12-13-2016, 10:24 AM   #7
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I would keep the ram, use a good hitch, you will be fine
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Old 12-13-2016, 06:07 PM   #8
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:08 AM   #9
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After some housekeeping this thread in now open. Please keep the replies limited to the OP's questions and not let this thread turn into a diatribe.

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Old 12-14-2016, 05:57 PM   #10
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Thanks Kevin245. You're one of the reasons AirForums is such a good site. Sometimes we get too passionate in our views. I'm as guilty as anyone I guess.

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Old 12-14-2016, 06:46 PM   #11
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I believe you will be fine with 27 or 28 foot airstream. Our Ram 1500 eco diesel does fine job pulling our 26U. I would look into some air-springs to help with additional weight of trailer and recommend keeping light load in bed of the truck. I also would recommend checking on weight distribution at Cat scales for stability with toeing and not exceeding 3900 lb on drive axle. After fine tuning our Blue ox sway control WD hitch I achieved Steer axle weight of 3240 and drive axle of 3680 with gross weight of 12920.
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Old 12-14-2016, 06:50 PM   #12
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Your problem will be payload. Some of these trucks have 1000 lbs payload. The AS can put that much weight on your truck, leaving nothing for your passengers and cargo. Some of these trucks have 1500/1700/1900 lbs payload. I'd choose one of those.
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Old 12-14-2016, 09:02 PM   #13
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Go for it! Camp around in Florida. Start researching. As you reach retirement and begin thinking going further afield you'll then have a better idea. Until then what you have is fine.
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:03 PM   #14
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I'm in the midst of looking at this same question. In our case we know the trailer we want (34' Airstream TT), so we have the weights from the Airstream site (9800 pounds gross, 1000 pounds hitch). We're looking at a 2013-4 F250/F350 for a tow vehicle and I'm asking questions on the Ford trucks forum.

Your truck will probably be just fine to get your new trailer home if you aren't coming from too far away. Whether it is sufficient for long-term towing is another question. First place to start is with the numbers on the sticker on the door. That will tell you the gross weights for front and rear axles, truck gross weight, and maybe gross combined weight (don't remember if that is there or not). Next load up the truck with the people and stuff that will be in it when you are going to be towing. Go to a scale and get weights for both front and rear axles. Now you can figure out how much additional weight your truck can handle. The Airstream website will tell you the gross vehicle weight rating of your proposed trailer and a guess as to what the hitch weight is. Someone who owns one can give you a better idea of what that number really is.

Once you have all of that information you can make a better decision about whether you truck will be suitable or if you should start shopping.
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:23 PM   #15
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Hi Ron,

I've had a good experience with our 2015 F150 XLT Super Cab V6 3.5L Twin Turbo (365HP) tow vehicle ax 331. We pull a 2007 Safari 25 FB. Our F150 with its aluminum body leaves an extra 700 payload and our Tow capacity is around 12,000 lb. With what you are considering I would take a look at the Ford too. Believe it or not - I'm averaging a mpg hwy of 12 loaded.

Regarding finding a good Trailer for a fair price - it take a year and a lot of perseverance?

Best wishes!

Peter
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Old 12-15-2016, 08:57 PM   #16
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Just a reminder the original poster already has a Ram 1500 Hemi.

And it will do great towing a midsize Airstream, larger if you know what you are doing. That payload sticker in the door is a good reference when hauling loads and no trailer. It has no basis in reality when hooking up our Airstream and setting the weight distribution bars (you need 1400 lb bars) so the truck's front and rear axles are under the 3900 lb GAWR each. We keep the truck/trailer under the combined weight rating for the truck (GCWR) because that is reasonable and capable for what we do. We've been doing it for five years with our Ram 1500's, handles and brakes beautifully with no ill effects in our travels all over the country, coast-to-coast, mostly in the West.

I emphasize the importance of a good weight distribution hitch set up properly, and for touring the country the Hensley/ProPride design with 1400 lb w.d. bars is something we would not do without. I would also emphasize learning to use the transmission for climbing and descending steep grades, and reduce speed on the way down, the steeper the lower the gear the slower the speed for a safe trip.

Anytime you feel you need more safety margin, slow down and you will have it.

He's a look at our EcoDiesel performance on a typical trip, the Hemi was similar but less fuel economy.
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Old 12-16-2016, 10:00 AM   #17
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I have an 8 speed 3.92 gear 2014 RAM 1500. Mine is the Diesel but the Hemi has nearly as much torque to move a load it just won't have the option of the turbo brake. In fact with more horsepower it will be able to move it faster. If it doesn't already have it you can add the factory brake controller for the AS. I've been useing mine to deliver AS for over 250,000 miles up to 8,000 lbs 30'11" and over the western grades. But IMO that's about the max comfortable weight for a TT when you hit the grades & such with the 1500 platform & the torque of the ED or Hemi.

The 1500 can do a wet 27/28 comfortably safely & reliably. But in order to do that you will need as above posters noted a good no sway WDH set up at the scale. Axle to frame air bags also help as do to a lesser degree load rated tires. Anything above the stock standard load passenger tires. I've had good luck with General Grabber HTS & Michelin Defenders.

At the scales if IMO you just get your front axle to say 85 percent (or better) of your rear axle weight you will have a stable handling truck & trailer. Again that is in conjunction with a no sway WDH. You don't have to have a high dollar hitch to get there but hitch/trailer & receiver set up will likely require some working with to get the most weight transfer. Naturally how the trailer & truck is loaded also plays a part. Thing is once you get your hitch truck n trailer set up your pretty much there. What I mean unless you have a radically different loading than your normal camping set up you won't have to go back to the scale to go camping. You will also likely be near your 3,900 pound axle rating on the rear. But it is built to handle that reliably and it does as mine is their regularly and has been for much of the 250,000 that I have on my truck.
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Old 12-16-2016, 03:11 PM   #18
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I have the 3.92 2014 ram hemi 8 spd 25 ft twin no problems just moved from cali to Tampa traveled on I 40 70 mph avg 13 mpg
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:04 PM   #19
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Doug
looking at your picture of your gauges, our Ecodiesel has very similar results. On our last trip we average 15.9 MPG pulling 26U weighing around 7000 lbs
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:30 PM   #20
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As a reference experience, the Airstream literature tongue weight of our 2013 25FB International Serenity was 833 pounds. The dealer installed a Hensley Arrow hitch, one 155 watt solar panel, street side and rear awning, filled the two 30 pound propane tanks and the fish water tank. I had a brief case inside. The tongue weight as she sat new on the dealership lot was 1,150 pounds.

The real tongue weights of the Airstream trailers usually is several hundred pounds more than shown in the catalog. So part of the research into your camping adventure is to get accurate weight numbers of the tongue weight, actual axle loads (and even better actual tire loads) so you know the starting numbers. Then one can move items in the trailer storage areas to bring those loads to better stabilize the trailer.

The driver door post of the tow vehicle will have the numbers for that specific vehicle. Clean all the extra "stuff" out of the tow vehicle, fill the vehicle and drive across the CAT scales (truck stops) with just the driver. You will now have the base weight of the tow vehicle and know the actual loads on each axle. Compare this total empty weight and the axle weights to the door post numbers of the maximum values.

Now you know what margins you have to carry passengers and stuff in the tow vehicle and how much tongue weight that can be carried. In a theory based world, ⅓ of the tongue weight would go back to the trailer axles and ⅓ to the front axle and ⅓ to the rear axle.

Many here will argue over the vehicle size. A bigger concern than starting it moving is getting it stopped. Especially downhill in the mountains.

So I suggest reading the probably hundreds of "tow vehicle?" threads here. You will find that this will be time well spent before making a final decision to keep what you have or move a different tow vehicle.

Enjoy the research and welcome to the Airstream forum.
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