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Old 10-28-2015, 12:43 PM   #1
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Narrowing Down on Which Airstream Buy

Hello all!

I have an '02 Toyota 4Runner. The GVWR is 5250lb, so the tongue weight is roughly 525.

I am in love with the 20' Flying Cloud, but no matter how I do the math with weight distribution hitches and the like, the stats just don't stack in my favor.

So, I'm wondering if there is anyone out there with a comparable vehicle successfully towing a Flying Cloud. Even the 19' seems to be pushing it but would love to know if that would work. The most appealing thing to me is the open-ish floor plan.

I'm just not in love with the Sport but I really want an Airstream... and purchasing a new tow vehicle is not an option.


Thanks in advance!

P.s. I plan to do full-time living in my trailer.
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Old 10-28-2015, 12:50 PM   #2
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rethink your strategy. Airstream will be around much longer that your tow vehicle.

In my mind, full timing in a 20' sounds as much fun as wearing jeans that are too small. You can do it, but it hurts and gives you gas.

Look for a 27', take a trip up to Can-Am and have Andy set you up properly and safely.
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Old 10-28-2015, 01:07 PM   #3
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Hahaha. Thanks for that analogy, Dan. I was worried about the length + full-timing = heartburn.

My 4runner is just so sturdy and on top of that, I have no monthly payments. I was really hoping to be able to work around it, but the more I look, the more I think I may need to adjust my strategy indeed.

I'm just so ready to hit the road that if I wait until I can afford a bigger rig, then I'm waiting at least another year... and that too feels wrong.

Of course the other option is to tow my vehicle and just get a Land Yacht.

What and where is Can-Am?
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:08 PM   #4
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Can-Am is a dealership in Canada (where people are apparently less litigious), and through the magic of ignoring vehicle manufacturer's tow capacities, they can set up your seemingly undersized vehicle to tow your massive trailer. Yes, I'm being cynical, but at the end of the day, you are the one who will be held liable in the event of accidents and disasters. You are sure to get some anecdotal evidence that you can tow your choice of trailer with your 4Runner. Not everything that can be done should be done, though.

I'm in the camp of getting the trailer you think you will be happy living in, and then finding the appropriate sized vehicle to tow it. If you plan to be on the road all the time, then having the right sized vehicle is going to be much more important to you than to the guy who tows one weekend a month (in fair weather) or less and is willing to risk a vehicle-trailer mismatch.

Good luck.
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:18 PM   #5
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Your right Beleghedhel, Can-am has killed so many people I don't know how he has stayed in business!

My GOD, can you believe that he just slaps on a different ball size with glue and sends people on there way? Just yesterday, two of his rigs flipped over and killed 16 orphan children in a fiery crash.

Trailer home lives matter! He must be stopped!

(or he has been doing this successfully for decades, but your smarter than him....)
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:26 PM   #6
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I own and tow a FC20 with a Lexus RX350 setup by CanAm. We love it for multi-week cross country trips and weekend excursions. We would probably not full time in it, but there's two of us and a dog. I've had a couple of very scary emergency situations while towing (caused by other drivers) and the handling and braking characteristics of this setup helped us avoid nasty outcomes. Forty-five years of RV towing experience probably also helped!
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Old 10-28-2015, 02:32 PM   #7
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Your right Beleghedhel, Can-am has killed so many people I don't know how he has stayed in business!

My GOD, can you believe that he just slaps on a different ball size with glue and sends people on there way? Just yesterday, two of his rigs flipped over and killed 16 orphan children in a fiery crash.

Trailer home lives matter! He must be stopped!

(or he has been doing this successfully for decades, but your smarter than him....)

Whoa, touched a little nerve there!
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Old 10-28-2015, 03:35 PM   #8
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This is exactly what I don't like to see: Making these faith based recommendations to a newbie.

Underrated tow vehicles work... for a while. If you search this forum you will find many many examples of folks who started out with underrated tow vehicles, ranted and raved about how great their combo is, and eventually switched (many times, quietly) to a proper tow vehicle, with much financial loss.

I suggest you read this informative towing guide: Trailer Loading and Towing Guide
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Old 10-28-2015, 03:56 PM   #9
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Previously mentioned was the liability factor when causing an accident or death because your rig & setup was a mismatch. Insurance Investigators will & do check the tow ratings of both trailer & tow vehicle, if one don't match the other a claim will cause you a lot of misery. Can Am in London, Ontario Canada has been known to put some combinations together that make a lot of us on here shake our heads, don't put yourself in jeopardy, match your trailer & tow vehicles ability & maybe save a life or save your like.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:09 PM   #10
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Thanks so much, everyone!

I just spoke to Joe at Can-Am and he was incredibly helpful. I have confidence in pulling a longer AS and get to broaden my search.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkc929 View Post
Hello all!

I have an '02 Toyota 4Runner. The GVWR is 5250lb, so the tongue weight is roughly 525.

I am in love with the 20' Flying Cloud, but no matter how I do the math with weight distribution hitches and the like, the stats just don't stack in my favor.
Leaving aside the challenges of full timing in a 20 foot trailer, and the usual prophecies of doom, check your figures.

The 5250 GVWR appears to be the GVWR of your Toyota. The trailer you mentioned could have a GVWR closer to 5000 lbs (depending on year, that is the current spec). And that is if you load it right up to maximum rated load, which is under your control. A quick check shows a published tow capacity of 5000 lbs for your vehicle, but it will likely depend on how it is configured (4x4, trim level, options, etc) and you also have to think about tow vehicle payload. Payload is more likely to be a limiting factor than tow rating.

More information required.

Jeff
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:11 PM   #12
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This is exactly what I don't like to see: Making these faith based recommendations to a newbie.

Underrated tow vehicles work... for a while. If you search this forum you will find many many examples of folks who started out with underrated tow vehicles, ranted and raved about how great their combo is, and eventually switched (many times, quietly) to a proper tow vehicle, with much financial loss.

I suggest you read this informative towing guide: Trailer Loading and Towing Guide

I will absolutely read the guide. Thanks.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:12 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mrjkq View Post
Previously mentioned was the liability factor when causing an accident or death because your rig & setup was a mismatch. Insurance Investigators will & do check the tow ratings of both trailer & tow vehicle, if one don't match the other a claim will cause you a lot of misery. Can Am in London, Ontario Canada has been known to put some combinations together that make a lot of us on here shake our heads, don't put yourself in jeopardy, match your trailer & tow vehicles ability & maybe save a life or save your like.
That sounds troublesome and I'm not a fan of trouble. I appreciate the advice and will not take it lightly.
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Old 10-28-2015, 04:29 PM   #14
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Joe, we keep hearing that insurance stuff but whenever anyone is asked to substantiate it with a real case, no one ever can.

Not that I would recommend just hooking up a 25 to a 4Runner and go, I do know of a retired couple who had it properly set up and towed through most states including Alaska. That were never in a hurry and just enjoyed the experiences of travel. And it may have been the V8 4Runner, I'm not sure.

Personally it's not the tow rating that bothers me about the 4Runner, but it's antiquated (and typical) truck suspension and high center of gravity, rather long rear overhang compared to a short wheelbase and older engine/transmission combo that probably won't meet most people's expectations or desire to keep up with traffic.

For those reasons it would be near the bottom of tow vehicle choices. Not that's it's bad, similar vehicles with less power took Airstreams all over the world, it's modern day traffic that's the problem. You just won't like being in the midst of an impatient and intolerant population of modern drivers with the not-so-modern 4-Runner.
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Old 10-28-2015, 05:03 PM   #15
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Joe, you will get lots of conflicting advice, so take it all with a grain of salt. All of it is meant to help.

My suggestion is that you get your truck weighed as it would be ready to travel. Get the weight of each axle. Then take your truck to the Toyota dealer and find out the weight ratings (front axle, rear axle, gross weight, and gross combined weight).

Once you have all of that information you can figure out exactly what you can tow. I'm not going to tell you to ignore the limits your truck has, nor am I going to tell you that you are endangering yourself and everyone else on the road if you are even one pound over one of those limits. You will have to make that decision yourself and live with the consequences. I will tell you that it is generally better to have too much truck than not enough.
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Old 10-28-2015, 06:25 PM   #16
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You can read Andy's articles backing up his methods in Airstream life and few other RV publications.
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Old 10-28-2015, 06:51 PM   #17
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Aside from the option to retrofit the '02 to tow... consider some other issues:

How many miles on that 4Runner? Will you be faced with replacement soon-ish anyway?
How much will you spend to get it tow ready? Would those funds be better spent in another way?

I used to tow an Argosy Minuet (2800 lbs) with a ford explorer - a similar vehicle. Technically it was up to the challenge but I always knew the trailer was behind me and a days travel was hard work. It's better, imo to have some headroom on your towing specs.

By the time you load in your stuff, your dog, some water and the 100's of pounds of things you will have in your 4runner, you are going to be maxed out.

You might consider looking for a used 3/4 ton van - a great and cost effective way to tow. This would give you many more options (and a 'guest' room).
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Old 10-28-2015, 07:27 PM   #18
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Upgrade the 4Runner to a Tundra and you'll be set. Problem solved. Figure out your trade-in or private party value, save cash difference. No payments, on the road. Only factor is time and patience.

If I took the advice of folks on this forum about size of trailer needed for full-timing I'd be in a 54ft Class A.
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Old 10-29-2015, 01:36 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by rostam View Post
This is exactly what I don't like to see: Making these faith based recommendations to a newbie.

Underrated tow vehicles work... for a while. If you search this forum you will find many many examples of folks who started out with underrated tow vehicles, ranted and raved about how great their combo is, and eventually switched (many times, quietly) to a proper tow vehicle, with much financial loss.

I suggest you read this informative towing guide: Trailer Loading and Towing Guide

Observation of real world experience by the person who experienced it does not constitute a "faith based (sp) recommendation." Scientific understanding is based on both theoretical analysis - the towing guide being an example of this analysis as it is based on engineering specifications which are based on applied physics - and observation of those theories IN PRACTICE.

For a less esoteric reply, I'll repeat a challenge no one has taken me up on: I will meet anyone with a big trailer and a big truck and match that rig against my 20 and my "under-rated" tow vehicle in any type of "safety" maneuvers. Let's put the theories to the test.
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Old 10-29-2015, 06:27 AM   #20
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Observation of real world experience by the person who experienced it does not constitute a "faith based (sp) recommendation." Scientific understanding is based on both theoretical analysis - the towing guide being an example of this analysis as it is based on engineering specifications which are based on applied physics - and observation of those theories IN PRACTICE.

For a less esoteric reply, I'll repeat a challenge no one has taken me up on: I will meet anyone with a big trailer and a big truck and match that rig against my 20 and my "under-rated" tow vehicle in any type of "safety" maneuvers. Let's put the theories to the test.
Its faith based as its based on observations of just a single entity.

I'll also repeat a challenge no one has taken me up on: Name another RV shop that advocates ignoring the manufacturer tow ratings.
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