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Old 12-12-2008, 07:34 PM   #1
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Dreaming of a Flying Cloud

My wife and I are eagerly trying to get into RV'ing and Airstreaming in particular. We like the current 25' Flying Cloud, but we have two big issues: towing vehicle and cost.

We have a 2006 Tacoma w/towing package that gives us 6500#GVWR. That seems to be marginal, but lots of members of this forum seem to agree it's doable if you're careful with loading the trailer. We would appreciate more comments on this particular combo.

The cost issue is simply that we can't afford to buy a new FC, at least not right now, and would like to find a used one. How far back have FC's been made? Do they get heavier or lighter as they get older? Any guidelines on buying an older model?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:37 PM   #2
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$0.02

The Tacoma is great vehicle, as most Toyota's are. You may have the towing capacity, but if it were me I'd be very concerned about having enough "Critical Mass".

Your statement contains the word "marginal, and "doable". That would leave me to believe that you would be at the upper capacity limit for this combination. This is no problem until something unexpected crosses your path, as was the case in the post link below.


http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ime-46232.html


The key is how much risk are you willing to accept, and what kind of safety factor is suitable.

Just my $0.02.
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Old 12-12-2008, 08:59 PM   #3
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First of all let me welcome you to the forum.

I'd be very cautious towing a 25' with a Tacoma. Even if it's remotely doable, you're still putting yourself at risk. Also, don't even think about coming to New Mexico or Colorado. The hills and mountains will be too much to take.

Go to Airstream, Inc :: Specifications. Study the specs. You'll see that the GWVR of the 25' Flying Cloud is 7300# - that's the same as our 28' Safari which we tow with a Ford F-150 5.4L V8 rated at 9300#. Even with that much power we're struggling to get up the big hills. We're considering trading up to a F-250 next year.

On second thought, if you really want to keep your TV you may want to consider getting a Bambi for a starter. You can trade up later.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:53 PM   #4
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Get the 25 ft

Get the 25 footer. Life is short my friend. Get a 3/4 ton drive slow and easy. Last you forever. You can go where you want no worry. Key West to Portland, its up to you. The last thing you want is a great trailer and worried, can i go? 20 years from now you will be glad you did.
Go man Go.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:58 PM   #5
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[quote=Jimandrod;647380]
Go to Airstream, Inc :: Specifications. Study the specs. You'll see that the GWVR of the 25' Flying Cloud is 7300# - quote]

It would appear to me that a 20' Flying Cloud is an option for you. You drop down to 5000# GWVR, which is within the range of your Tacoma. Even the 23' is at 6000# GWVR, although it may be too close to the top end towing range of your TV. Either of these options should be double checked by someone with more experience than I.

I hope you can find your Airstream real soon!
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Old 12-12-2008, 10:20 PM   #6
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You could also consider a vintage 25 footer (Tradewind) and be within your limits.
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:11 PM   #7
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your question regarding the Tacoma tow vehicle matched to a 25' Flying Cloud, I afraid that the Tacoma would come up somewhat short. We have a 2005 25FB, and it weighs in at 7300# ready to travel. Pulling a late model 25' Airstream with a Tacoma would not be anywhere close to my comfort zone. Always remember that a poor towing experience is the single most common cause of perfectly good Airstreams becoming very expensive pieces of yard art.

As to your question about used Airstreams, there are many good lightly used 25' Safaris. 2009 is the first year of the Flying Cloud in its current configuration. This is a model name last used many years ago. Check out the Safaris of recent years.

Brian
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Old 12-12-2008, 11:59 PM   #8
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please follow the advise you hear here. a vintage trade wind (3000#-) will work very well for you. you would do well to follow ebay airstream listings all winter long.

this is the biggest problem Airstream and other trailer mfgs are facing today. it used to be that many people had sizable tow vehicles by default - i.e. Tahoe, Suburban, full size pick-ups, etc.

the fuel crisis has the masses downsizing their cars thus leaving them without default tow vehicles. i have fixed income friends caravaning this winter. thankfully they will be traveling with livable fuel prices.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:15 AM   #9
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Thanks for the great input!

Thanks to all for the great input. We will probably downscale our trailer size for now, and look to upgrading both trailer and TV after we've become full-fledged Airstreamers.

Thanks especially for the comment regarding bad towing experiences (leading to expensive yard ornaments). We certainly don't want to start out on this endeavor by creating the potential for a bad experience.
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Old 12-13-2008, 10:19 AM   #10
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Red face When???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamnair View Post
Thanks to all for the great input. We will probably downscale our trailer size for now, and look to upgrading both trailer and TV after we've become full-fledged Airstreamers.

Thanks especially for the comment regarding bad towing experiences (leading to expensive yard ornaments). We certainly don't want to start out on this endeavor by creating the potential for a bad experience.

Sounds like you're already an Airstreamer to me. Welcome to the forum and update us as to your progress.

Happy Holidays,

Kevin
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Old 12-13-2008, 11:21 AM   #11
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Try the 23'

Quote:
Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

As to your question regarding the Tacoma tow vehicle matched to a 25' Flying Cloud, I afraid that the Tacoma would come up somewhat short. We have a 2005 25FB, and it weighs in at 7300# ready to travel. Pulling a late model 25' Airstream with a Tacoma would not be anywhere close to my comfort zone. Always remember that a poor towing experience is the single most common cause of perfectly good Airstreams becoming very expensive pieces of yard art.

As to your question about used Airstreams, there are many good lightly used 25' Safaris. 2009 is the first year of the Flying Cloud in its current configuration. This is a model name last used many years ago. Check out the Safaris of recent years.

Brian
I agree with Moosetags, the Tacoma is not a good match for a 25' Airstream and I believe the current 2009 Flying Cloud Model is exactly the same as the Safari model of 2008 and earlier. It was simply a name change. My guess is that you would like the Safari SE models which had upgraded windows and aluminum skinned interiors similar to the International models. If it is the 25' Front Bedroom(FB) model of the Flying Cloud that you like, take a look at the 23' Safari SE, still a two axle, but not a wide body like the 25s, much lower weight.

Have fun dreaming, and then go for it.
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Old 12-13-2008, 02:48 PM   #12
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Dreamnair Welcome to the forums. The Tacoma could in all practicality tow some of the smaller newer units, or up to a 24/25 ft older tradewind, however it also needs to be able to stop it quickly and safely if needed in an emergency. Not sure if the Tacoma is up to the task. It's better to have more than you need, than need more than you have, Good Luck!!
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Old 12-13-2008, 04:56 PM   #13
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Dream, welcome to the Forum. You are approaching this correctly and asking the right questions.

You have the same dilemma we had last year—a good Toyota truck and a desire for a 25' Safari (now Flying Cloud, otherwise the same). And money is an issue and isn't is always.

We had a 2002 Tundra with the 4.7 V8. Looking at the newer Tacomas, they seem to be the same size as the 1st generation Tundras and may be built on the same platform. But you have a V6, not a V8, and the Tacoma V8 (there must be one) is probably the older Tundra 4.7 L. The Toyota V6 is a great engine, but it's not big enough for a 25' and maybe not for a 23'; in fact, the 4.7 L is marginal for a recent Safari/FC 25'. Not only is the engine not big enough, but I suspect the payload is too small for a 25'.

I expect you want a trailer you can happily live with for a number of years. If you get a vintage one you will have a lot of restoration work in most cases plus a lot of expenses. But they were a lot lighter. Or you can look for late 80's to 90's, newer thus probably less work. I don't know what late '80's and '90's Excellas weigh, but it's a lot less than the later Safaris. One thing to think about is what size works for you. We would feel crammed in with a smaller trailer, other people are fine with that. We wanted a queen bed because we are tall, and there were few options for that. Some trailer's toilets are hard to use unless you are child under 10. It's good to do the standard toilet test and see if your knees fit with the door closed.

If you can resist buying one immediately (aluminitis is a virulent disease with quick onset), go to a dealer and check out all sizes to see what fits. If the salesman tells you your Tacoma will easily tow a 25' FC, you are listening to a lying fool. If something smaller than a 25' is uncomfortable, it isn't going to get any bigger after you buy it. So don't try to talk yourself into it under the premise "I can live with it". You may well want to upgrade in size very shortly and that can be very expensive—I'm sure many Forum members could tell you about that mistake.

If you buy a recent model Safari, the price may not be so good because the seller paid more than he or she would pay today. So, they may not be willing to meet current market prices. If you go back to the '90's or earlier, even if everything looks good, you may have to replace some expensive appliances and do some other changes and repairs. I think it's safe to assume you will have some extra costs. You will also need a weight distributing hitch. We have an Equalizer and it works fine. You will find there are plenty of other things you will want and RV stuff is never cheap There are Forum members who will do inspections—I think you can access that info on the Portal page. Hopefully they would know what to look for.

A lot of people look at the gross weight the vehicle can tow and the gross combined weight of the trailer and truck and see that they fit just within those margins. That's the easy part. It's the truck payload on a 1/2 ton truck that can be the stopper. With your Tacoma's V6 has less than 300 hp and I don't know what the torque, but it sounds like not enough for this decade's Safaris. Most will recommend not to go over 80% of stated capacities for safety. It's the quick emergency maneuvers that will get you when towing even though the towing when all is well seems fine. With a truck that is borderline, it may tow well, but the suspension, driveline, differential and transmission are taking a beating and you will eventually pay for it.

I would approach it this way—check out new ones to see what fits (this may take trips to several dealers). Check out what's available on the classifieds. E-mail sellers to find out weights and look for whatever you can find on older Airstreams on the internet. Then make a decision what trailer you really want and see if your Tacoma will tow it safely. Read many threads on the Forum about these issues. If you can finance a trailer, the interest is usually deductible as it is considered a 2nd home. That's better than financing a new truck and not getting a tax deduction. If you decide you can swing an older trailer, but need a bigger truck, sell your Tacoma privately—you'll get more money and even now Tacomas are a vehicle that is wanted. You might be able to find a well cared for '06 Tundra with the 4.7 L that will tow an older trailer safely. You'd have to check the engine specs on the V6 vs. the 4.7 L V8—I don't think the HP is that different, but the V8 should have a lot more torque so you can come to the Colorado mountains.

Once you get aluminitus it's hard to be patient and do the research necessary. Good luck.

Gene
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:01 PM   #14
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Flying Clouds just came out for 2009. If you're patient there will be a few FCs starting to surface in the gently-used market in as little as a year or two. We bought our 25FB two years old and our tow vehicle one year old probably for almost the same price as a brand new FC *without* the tow vehicle. Also, in some states there's no sales tax required when buying used from a private party.

Not getting the right trailer now will cost you more later when you upgrade. Try not to settle.
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