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Old 01-06-2004, 04:09 PM   #29
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The Impala SS has a less than impressive wheelbase as well, however, it does tow just fine. I think it's aroudn 118"
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Old 01-06-2004, 07:03 PM   #30
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HI all,

I see this is turning into a debate - which is good.

I have a 155" wheel base, F250 diesel pickup that I have used to tow trailers with, for nearly twenty years now.
I have slid off the road twice due to black ice, towing a 19ft trailer. What Midam said about the tail wagging the dog is true. On icy roads, nothing will stop your truck or tow vehicle, from leaving the raod because of the trailer getting out of control - for whatever reason.

I cannot emphasize enough about an adequate tow vehicle - both in power and size. By that I mean plenty of engine power and adequate braking - along with the stable tow platform, the longer the better. A full size long bed pickup, a full size van or a suburban all make ideal tow vehicles.

You can tow a 35ft 5th wheel woth a 1/2 ton truck, but that doesnt make it safe. Common sense and a good look at the consequences of inadequate tow equipment, should make us all look at what vehicles we all use.

I now tow a 34ft Avion and it follows the truck (3500 Dodge dually) as if it wasn't there. My previous 27ft Wilderness used to follow my F250 much better than the 19ft trailers ever did. The smaller trailers tend to bounce around a lot more (faster the speed, the worse the wear and bounce) and therefore, should be carefully looked at for towing. The smaller tow vehicles may seem OK and look OK, but can they handle and control an unstable 4,500lb trailer safely?????????? I very much doubt it.

It is your money, your trailer and your life. You put whatever value on it you want, but please be prepared for the unknown - that includes control in adverse conditions, and protection and stability.

Just a few things to consider. We have all "done things" but were they good, were they safe or wise.

OK - off the soap box now.

Travel safely.

Mariner
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Old 01-06-2004, 07:21 PM   #31
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I haven't noticed any problem pulling our single axle Caravel with our E150 van. The van weighs twice as much as the Caravel, and has a long wheelbase, and the trailer is only using about half the tow capacity. We have a ezlift hitch and friction sway control. Driving the van is exactly the same with or without the trailer, in fact it feels a little more solid with the trailer hooked up. We even drove it on the freeway without the sway control by mistake one time, and didn't notice any difference in performance. I can't imagine a trailer towing any better than this little Caravel has been towing for us.

Although the van may be overkill for some we use it as a work vehicle when we're not travelling, and when we are on the road, it was the only vehicle we could think of that would have space for all our stuff in the way back and a big enough back seat for the dogs and cat carrier. Room for the whole family to hit the road! A perfect example of American excess, I guess...
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Old 01-06-2004, 07:44 PM   #32
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I totally agree with Mariner except for one item. It is not only your life but those around you if you experience a problem. We towed our 19' Bambi with an extended long wheel based 3/4 ton Dodge diesel pickup and now use it to tow a 25' Safari. It sure is much more pleasurable to tow have our minds at ease when towing and be relaxed when we reach our destination. In this case I really believe bigger is better.
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Old 01-07-2004, 12:17 AM   #33
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I am a new kid on the block when it comes to owning and pulling an A/S. I recently retired from commercial insurance. We purchased a 19' 1999 Bambi in October. Love the Bambi.

We pull the Bambi with a 2000 Toyota Tundra with four doors V/8 and 4 wheel drive. The Tundra did not have a hitch so I went to the local U-Haul company owned location and had them install a U-Haul/Valley w/d hitch and a Prodigy brake controller. I had a very pleasant experience with U-Haul and recommend them for hitch work. For $5 they warranty the hitch for the life of the vehicle as installed. I have put about 1000 miles on the Bambi since purchase and installation of the hitch.

In October we drove from Las Vegas to Laughlin, Nevada in a cross wind of 40 plus miles per hour. We observed motor homes having a great deal of bumping and swaying on the highway. My only problem was to keep my A/S and truck under 70 miles per hour on a two lane road. The truck and A/S was very stable, no problems. Towed like a dream.

For 2004 the Tundra has a much larger rear seat than in my Tundra. I keep hearing that Toyota is going to build a beefed up Tundra for 2005 with a large V/8 and higher towing capabilities. I will be tempted to buy a new Tundra with the updates. For now, I love my Toyota. My Tundra it is doing a great job towing the Bambi.

I would not consider towing a Bambi or any other trailer without a w/d hitch.

Our experince to date includes mountain driving in Southern Utah and Northern Utah. No problem with the Tundra - plenty of power. The Tundra drives and rides much like an expensive SUV and gives you the advantage of a truck for hauling.

My wife has a Toyota Highlander. Prior to buying the Highlander we had a series of Jeep Cheeokee, starting with a 1989, going to a 1994 and then a 1998. I would not consider pulling a 19' A/S (or any other A/S) with any of the Jeeps or the V/6 Highlander.


Jim Brown
Liberty, UT
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Old 01-07-2004, 01:31 AM   #34
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Jim,
I'm guessing you're a Toyota fan . . . I'm curious, have you towed your Bambi without a W/D equipped hitch? From what I've read, some have expressed the opinion that they notice very little difference with and without W/D. I've only towed mine without, so I wouldn't no.
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Old 01-07-2004, 08:07 AM   #35
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I think Jim hit it right on the head. I mean anyone can sound alarmist here, but frankly, the wheelbase is very important, but we are talking about a Bambi here.

Now when they delivered the new Safari, they had a 1 ton dually Dodge diesel with no weight bars. When we took it off the hitch (and they didn't have weight bars on) the back of the truck lifted about 1".

I then put it on my Impala SS, which I have put Moog cargo coils in the back, and the 750+ hitch weight almost stood the car vertically. When I had the Bambi (460 hitch weight), it also to a far lesser extent, would push the rear end down. Now understand this, in some cases, cars are under rated for a bunch of different reasons. If your tow vehicle is one of those cars and you can clearly identify why, modify the vehicle to do what you want it to safely, I see no reason why you should not do it. For example, the Impala SS from the factory had 260hp (at about 5000rpm) and 325ft/lbs of torque (at about 1800 rpm). It had a tow rating of 2500lbs. The Caprice Classic which is the same car when you get it with the LT1 is rated at 5000lbs. The SS had 3.08 gears and dual electric cooling fans. The Caprice has 2.93 gears and a mechanical primary fan and an electrical secondary fan. So the main reason for the extra 2500lb tow capacity is due mostly to having the mechanical fan. I have spent about $2000 taking the specs of the Caprice and exceeding them by adding a lower thermostat temp, different computer engine management program, upgraded shocks, springs, upgraded trans and engine cooling, upgraded the driveshaft, upgraded the dual exhaust, upgraded the front and rear lower control arms, and upgraded the gears from the 2.93s to 3.73s. The car now is more suited both in the suspension and in the driveline, let alone the engine bay for a bit larger than the 19' Bambi it could deal with right off the showroom floor. It now has 296hp at 5000 rpm and has 367 ft lbs of torque at about 1800 rpm out of the same 5.7 350. You too could expect similar result if you know what you are doing and plan correctly. Power is not everything, how it handles is also just as important. As such, I will beta test towing the 6300lb (GVWR) 25' Safari C with this vehicle. I feel it is a very safe tow for this given all the attention and calculations I've done researching and planning for these additional weights. If you don't know how or don't have the time, go out an buy a tow vehicle off the showroom floor that not only meets, but exceeds the need.

In my opinion, the weight bars do two things. First and most obvious, it distributes the weight. Witht them on, the car and the trailer are level. My cars tires are rated at about 1860lbs per tire and the rear end of the car loaded weighs about 2400lbs (without the coach on it). For some, the tire ratings could be exceeded if it was not for a weight distributing system, regardless of if the tow vehicle sags or not. Incidently, the factory owners manual puts a 33% load of the hitch to the coach and to the front and rear tires of the tow vehicle, so in reality an 800lb hitch weight would place **about** 265lbs on the rear of the tow vehicle, 265lbs on the front of the tow vehicle and 265lbs on the coaches axles. Regardless if you need it, this can also lead to the second reason I think using weight bars is a good idea.

That reason is stability. It adds rigidity to the connection between the tow vehicle and the coach. If you look at some of the most popular hitch systems (Hensley, Reese, etc) you'll find that they all have this system. I don't think the Hensley you can even get it without weight bars. This says a lot, especially when some 16 and 19' Bambi owners have not only gone with the Hensley, but also rave about how very controlled the tow exp is. Me, I have the Reese weight distribution system and had the friction sway control with the Bambi. On the Safari, I upgraded to the Reese Dual Cam HP. I feel for anything larger than 19' you start to get into larger needs.

At any rate, I think we'd all agree that a car or truck that has the means can ususally be up to the task. I feel the main factor is really the driver in the end. As has been stated in this thread, no matter what you tow with, no matter how good a driver you are, and no matter what gear you have connected, the coach will take full control of your rig in a bad situation. Now some of us would like you to think you need a semi tractor to tow and they are right, you'd have little problem with your Airstream, but a good driver, good gear and tow vehicle that has the proper ratings and basics will yield similar results. We've been towing for over 25 years from when we were young going camping with the family to now where we ourselves have the coach and other towables. The results have been the same....no Indi 500 races+ good gear+good tow vehicle+ safe common sense driving in all weather conditions= continued enjoyment and saftey for all.

Eric
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Old 01-07-2004, 09:05 AM   #36
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Eric - I think it's great that you tow with your Impala. I've been coveting a Roadmaster wagon with the LT-1 for years now, as I think it would make a versatile daily driver as well as a good tow vehicle for a smaller trailer.

The previous owner of our 24' Tradewind towed it very successfully all over the country with a Ford Crown Victoria, and we have a '71 Buick Estate Wagon that we're toying with upgrading to make it reliable and comfortable for towing our smaller trailers to vintage rallies.

I guess when I referred to wheelbase in my earlier post I should have referred as well to center of gravity. If a compact or mid-size sport utility (4-Runner, Explorer, Pathfinder, etc. - those not based minimally on a half-ton such as the Tahoe, Expedition, etc.) had the same tow rating as the Impala SS, I would take the Impala for several reasons. Not only is it a way cooler ride, but I would think its lower center of gravity would make it more stable with a single-axle or any trailer than a taller sport-ute with an equivalent or shorter wheelbase.

We have quarter horses, and our friends who have pulled their horse trailers with the smaller sport-utes have all upgraded to either larger sport-utes or trucks for not only the extra margin of safety but also for towing comfort not only for the driver but also for the horses themselves.

Going back to the original question, would a V-8 4-Runner be adequate for a Bambi under most circumstances? Yes. It has an advantage over unibody sport-utes such as the Pathfinder and Grand Cherokee as it still has a truck-type frame, and it's certainly much more than adequate in terms of towing capacity. But given the combination of high altitude and tricky mountain passes, I think I'd want something more.
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Old 01-07-2004, 09:38 AM   #37
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Hey Ben, I particularly like the '71 Buick Wagon. Now that is a true, blue mean machine monster with a heck of a frame.

The Roadmaster wagon frame, particularly in the center section is far more robust than it is on the "B" body sedans (Impala, Caprice). I would think you would have an even better exp with the wagon than the sedan.

I agree totally on the center of gravity thing. I wasn't really posting regarding your post. It's a tough call on the V8 mountain pass thing since depending on the power and torque it has, how much would be left in the higher elevations.

I think there are few wrong answers here and I think the overall comments here are right on track including yours!

I know that even with the Impala, I still might be a bit less happy to try to tackle a mountain pass. I'm part German, so everything is kind of methodical, but add the thinner air, the extra weight, the mountian grades, I think I'd be happier with a Duramax/Allison 3/4 truck! I think anything else and like the emblems, the Impala would sprint off the mountain pass follwed by a 3 tons of happy (RV).
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Old 01-07-2004, 02:40 PM   #38
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Toyota 4Runner

Wow! -- lots of very thoughtful discussion here concerning the 4Runner. Midamrail mentioned one part of the equation that is near and dear to us, the need for a tow vehicle that's also a "versatile daily-drive." We are country folk transplanted to the city and we have no off-street parking. So we'll have to put the trailer in storage when we're not using it, but we'll need the tow vehicle as a family car on a daily basis. It will be parked in tight conditions on the street near our house. Under different circumstances, we would probably be looking at something with a longer wheelbase (and a longer trailer to tow!)

We want the Bambi mostly as a weekend escape vehicle, and we might occasionally take it for a longer ride south or west, back home to Ohio (my home state as well as Airstream's ), but it will mostly be towed around New England. Not too many mountain passes to be concerned about.

Thanks everyone!

-Jamie
(Counting the months to our 10th wedding anniversary. Traditional gift: tin or aluminum. Hoping for about 19ft of it. )
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:37 PM   #39
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It's interesting that when you try to come up with a newer vehicle that can pull 5000 lbs., has a decent cargo area, and gets mileage in the mid-20s or better, all that's really out there are the 1994-96 GM big wagons (Caprice & Roadmaster). They were rated for 5000 pounds, shared the LT-1 engine with the Corvette, and were still rated at 25-26 MPG on the highway. And, with the back seat folded down, you can fit a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood in them!

Where is the vehicle that will handle groceries/dogs/kids/whatever, inclement weather, a smaller Airstream, and a lengthy commute each day without breaking the fuel bank? It's really a shame that the big wagons aren't out there anymore and that no one's developed an SUV that's truly capable while still being fuel-efficient.
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:47 PM   #40
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WE have a 3/4 ton extended cab long bed Dodge diesel that holds lots of things. I use it to commute to work and average 22-23 MPG. Towing our recently sold '01 Bambi on a trip from Florida to California and back we averaged 16.25 MPG. Its not for everyone but sure fits our needs.

Bob
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Old 01-07-2004, 03:59 PM   #41
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I previously swore by my 1/2 ton suburban. It would tow my 25' tradewind (recently given to my sister and brother in law) FULLY loaded with everything you can imagine including several full ice chests of refreshments with no problems at all.

In 2003 I bought a 2000 F250 powerstroke w/35K on it for a song. There is absolutely no comparison between the two! I love my 'burb and won't sell it (I pick up all my lumber in it for my woodworking projects), but the towing difference and mileage while towing just don't compare. I picked up my '73 31' during the summer with it, pulled it back on the ball only and never knew it was there! Have also since pulled the 25' camping fully loaded, including 45 boxes (20pk bottle beer box sized ) full of scrap wood from a recent project for firewood. About 100# of cast iron cookware, several aforementioned ice chests, fishing gear, etc. Got 14 in the Arkansas hills, 15.5 in Texas.

Nuff said.


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