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Old 05-18-2010, 08:04 PM   #1
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Why does an Airstream tow better than its kin

Hi folks I hope someone or more can explain why and how an Airstream tows better than its Avion or Silver Streak or general SOB kin?

I know it is more aerodynamic, is that it. Is it because it is lower to the ground with a lower center of gravity? Is it it because it monocoque construction?

Also is it a real towing difference? Thanks a lot in advance. Thanks Tony Scolaro Rogue River Oregon

By the way I am looking for a Tradewind or possibly 24" Argosy. From what I have been seeing it might be best for me to wait until fall or so.
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:02 PM   #2
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Silver beats White

Hi Tony,

The big answer is....it doesn't! Well, that's a loaded answer....an Airstream does tow better than, say, a big Holiday Rambler box shaped travel trailer. They don't tow one stitch better than an Avion. But, that is because the Airstream and the Avion share some of the same advantages over the big white box.

I can't speak directly for a Silver Streak or a Streamline, as I've not owned one, but I have owned and pulled a 31' Airstream Excella 500 and now pull an Avion 34X. i don't see a whole lot of difference between them as far as ease of pull.

Airstreams (and Avions....and some of the other "Silver Sisters) sit lower than most of the white box trailers. The downside to this is that you have wheel wells inside them which eats up some of your interior room. The upside is that you have (A) a lower center of gravity and (B) less wind resistance. In most towing situations, it's the lesser wind resistance that is your biggest asset and it helps improve your fuel mileage. But in windy conditions, you will certainly appreciate the lower center of gravity in conjunction with the more aerodynamic shape.

The older Airstreams are more aerodynamic than the Avion trailers. The newer Airstreams are dead ringers for the shapes of the Avion trailers.

A third factor might be weight. Airstreams are lighter than Holiday Ramblers. They are a little lighter than Avions, but not by much, and it depends on year. My '87 Avion weighs more than an '87 Airstream primarily because it has a much beefier frame. But if you compare the weight of a newer 34' Airstream to my 34' Avion, you will find that the stream weighs more; mainly because of the corian counter tops and all the heavy accessories they put in them.

The "monocoque" has nothing to do with it, other than maybe supposedly saving a little weight. But what you'll find with the older long trailers is that the weight they saved is more than offset by the sag and separation problems (they fixed these in 1985 by going to a deeper frame). I had planned to make a new frame for my Excella (it had both sag and separation....badly) but sadly I just didn't have the time. My new frame was going to be 8" deep, which is double what the OEM frame was, and would have had about seven times the stiffness; and it would have added about 200lbs total to the weight of the coach. That's nothing. So even though my Avion weighs a little more than an Airstream of the same vintage, it's primarily in the frame (and secondarily in the cabinetry).

Bottom line: Any of the silver trailers will tow better than a Big White Box because they are rounded off (aero), sit lower (aero) and are made of aluminum (less weight).

None of them have the room of a modern 5er. But dag nab it, they sure have Character! About every place I go, I'm the island of silver in a sea of white...it's kind of cool.

Buy yourself whichever one you like (they're all good!) and go have fun with it!

See ya on the road,
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Old 05-18-2010, 10:24 PM   #3
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The other factor not mentioned is suspension. Airstreams use a torsion bar and the white boxes use a solid axle with leaf springs.

So the Airstream has a smooth independent suspension and the others have truck suspension technology from the 1940's
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Old 05-18-2010, 11:25 PM   #4
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Let's see,

Round tows better than square,
Lower center of gravity,
Rubber suspension tows better than leaf springs.

But, when comparing AS to Avion, Silver Streak, and Streamline, they all should tow better than a square trailer.

But, which round trailer tows the best? That is subjective.
Take your pick.
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Old 05-18-2010, 11:55 PM   #5
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Your answers have been very helpful. Currently I am reworking a decision I already made on a trailer. Since I am not thinking about any trailer other than AS and Avion it seems like I should just eliminate towing ease difference as a variable of some merit which had been my impression of As based on what I thought I was reading in previous posts. Thanks when I get the trailer I want I will have you folks to thank Tony Scolaro Rogue River Oregon
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Old 05-19-2010, 10:51 AM   #6
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There are differences although they are slight.

The overall height of Avions is a few inches greater than comparable Airstreams due to differences in the suspension and the frame.

Avion used a variety of suspensions depending on year. See this thread. I think most people believe that the torsion axles used by Airstream are, overall, better riding and more readily maintainable.
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:07 PM   #7
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Thanks Jammer Useful link Jim has been very helpful and generous educating me about Avion. Of course, as well as others Tony
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:23 PM   #8
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I towed my 28' safari for a year and now have a 40' 5th wheel, I cannot tell the difference, even my MPG has stayed the same. The only thing that is slightly different is stopping, the 5th wheel does not stop smoothly
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Old 05-19-2010, 12:49 PM   #9
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I towed my 28' safari for a year and now have a 40' 5th wheel, I cannot tell the difference, even my MPG has stayed the same. The only thing that is slightly different is stopping, the 5th wheel does not stop smoothly
Wow bob, the same mileage. That is hard to imagine considering the size and aerodynamic differences. I would bet you are happy with those results though.
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Old 05-19-2010, 01:11 PM   #10
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whut duz toe betta mean?

the problem with generic questions are generic answers.

almost all NON 5th wheel travel trailers use a ball hitch.

ball hitch towing is affected by the length, weight, number AND type and placement of axles and hitch type and TOW vehicle...

and vary by decade or era of trailer AND tow vehicle.
________

so is this about a 50s double door 30 footer on ONE axle...

or a new bambi or 70s 23 footer or 90s 3 triple axle ???
________

then define what "better" means.
________

sticking ONLY to 'streams...

lighter trailers tow differently than heavier ones...

single vs multi axle units have different towing characteristics...

not ALL streams have rubber torsen axles...

and MANY with rubber torsen axles have BAD/decayed axles that need replaced.

wide body towing may feel different than towing the old skinny streams...

some have tanks BELOW the frame and centered near the axles...

while OTHER STREAMS have front or REAR tanks or tanks ABOVE the floor.

some were built with FRONT KITCHENS or REAR BATHS or SLIDES...

and all these things affect 'better' or worser towing.
__________

last time i checked no one was building the 60s/70s/80s bullets any more.

so s'streaks, a'vee ons, and other D/Cd brands tow like OLD trailers...

and OLD streams tow like OLD trailers.
__________

OTHER BRANDS use rubber torsen axles now and other brands use other types of rubber suspensions...

so some other brands are equal or BETTER (define) at towing than streams.

while most 5th wheels are TALLER and block more air in motion, some folks LIKE the towing characteristics of 5'ers.

there are smaller, sleeker, low center trailers from other companies that tow nicely too, maybe BETTER than streams.
__________

so it really isn't much good to broadly lump or sweep them all together.

LIST THE SPECIFIC UNITS and YEARS and LENGTHS and BRANDS, for any real insight into towing variations.

ALL of the pseudostreammarketing use of the terminology is vague and intentionally misleading...

lighter, monocoque (they aren't), aerodynamic, lower, sleeker and so on...

are for the most part MIS used concepts and vary by decade and NOT unique to streams.

cheers
2air'
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Old 05-19-2010, 03:22 PM   #11
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I still get 11.1 towing 14,000+ lbs. I got the sam towing my 8,000+ lb safari

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Wow bob, the same mileage. That is hard to imagine considering the size and aerodynamic differences. I would bet you are happy with those results though.
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:36 PM   #12
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It's simple: SILVER trailers tow better, esPECially if you paint a lightning bolt on the sides.
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Old 05-19-2010, 08:47 PM   #13
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...almost all NON 5th wheel travel trailers use a ball hitch....cheers
2air'
As 2Air points out, perhaps its a case of the 'streamers using better equipment!

I do an informal survey on my daily 65 mile each direction of interstate commute...(it gets boring)...and...

+-35% of the box trailers I see use weight distrubtion...that means I see 65% of the box trailers 'on the ball' with no sway and no WD!

BUT...
100% of the 'streams I see have had WD, most have had a 'Cam WD' or straightline and the single 34' I passed is the only trailer I have ever seen on the road with a Hensley!

BUT having towed both types 'on-the-ball', the SOB's are like towin' a parachute...
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Old 05-20-2010, 05:51 AM   #14
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Back in the 60's my dad had an RV sales business. Through the business he towed probably 30 different trailers. He stayed away from heavy trailers for whatever reason.

The largest SOB he ever towed was a 21' Golden Falcon.

Back in the late 90's I took him to Can Am. He always wanted an Airstream but thought they were to heavy. Andy let him drive the V6 Intrepid with the large Airstream in tow. My dad could not believe how easy the big bullet was to tow at highway speeds.

Regardless of the weight I'm sure if he had realized how easy they were to tow he would have owned an Airstream many, many years ago.
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