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Old 06-04-2006, 12:20 PM   #1
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New user - tow vehicle?

Just became a member last night after viewing this great web site.
I live in Bradenton Fl. and just sold my MOHO. A 1986 35' Eldorado.
We only had it about 3 yrs, and found it was kind of a hassel to get in and out of narrow streets.
So the RV bug is still chewing on me and I have always admired Airstreams.
And the search is on for one that I can rehab to fit our needs.
My first question for anyone is, what kind of tow vehicle will I need for say a 27 to 30' Airstream? I currently own a Chevy Astro Van with a 4.3 vortec V6
and auto trans. Will this do the job?

Thanks
Doug
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Old 06-04-2006, 01:49 PM   #2
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Doug,

I think you'll need a heavier tow vehicle for that size trailer. A 1/2 ton truck might do OK for you, but a 3/4 ton would be better. If you prefer a van, I'd look at the 3/4 or even 1 ton vans.

You'll definitely want a larger V8 gas engine, or better yet a diesel.

The longer the wheelbase, the more stable your rig will be. Conversely, the more of a pain it is to get around in it when you're not towing, so you have to strike a balance that works out for you.

I personally have a 4-door Dodge long bed pickup with the diesel. Pulls the trailer like it's not back there, and gets pretty decent mileage (I've gotten 21mpg with it on the highway) empty. But it's pretty long and you park far out at Walmart. Of course, I always end up parking far out at Walmart anyway

An older 27 footer weighs less than the new ones, and you could probably get by with a half ton pickup. For the 30', you're really getting to where you need a 3/4 ton, at least in my opinion.

At any rate, I think your Astro van is going to be a bit light for the size trailer you're after.

Take care,
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Old 06-04-2006, 04:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimGolden
Doug,

I think you'll need a heavier tow vehicle for that size trailer. A 1/2 ton truck might do OK for you, but a 3/4 ton would be better. If you prefer a van, I'd look at the 3/4 or even 1 ton vans.
From one who towed a 28' SOB with an Astro, while it might handle the weight (dependent upon the axle ratio), it's not a stable towing vehicle. Even with great sway control, cross winds and passing trucks make a tow with this size trailer a real chore. FYI, at least in the GM van line, the 3/4 ton vans have higher towing capacities than the 1 ton line.

I'm using a 3/4 ton GMC passenger van. It's a sweet tow vehicle.

Jack
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Old 06-04-2006, 06:53 PM   #4
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This might take a bit of time, but while you are browsing around the Forum notice that many people list their tow vehicles as well as their trailers and sometimes even the hitch. If you start to compile a list of Forum participants with the year/length combo you have in mind, then you could follow up with direct inquiries.

Short of a single database within the Forum for this purpose, good old pencil and paper or a simple custom spreadsheet might prove helpful.
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buccaneer
Doug
Aaargh! Always looking for more mateys there, Doug.

Airstreams have gotten heavier each decade. We could refer you to better numbers at Airstream's website (Airstreamer FAQs), but it is down for refurbishing at model year changeover I guess. But in the length you're looking I don't think any 1/2-ton capacity tow vehicle is going to please you in the end.

Jack Canavera is very happy with his large van - I'm glad he stepped in on your thread. Otherwise 3/4-ton Suburban is another possibility short of going to pickups.
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Old 06-04-2006, 08:44 PM   #6
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I agree with what's been said. The Astro isn't gonna make it. My take is that once you start to get into the widebody units starting at 25', you start to get into the 3/4 ton sandbox. At 30', 3/4 ton IMHO isn't really an option, it's a standard.
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Old 06-05-2006, 11:33 AM   #7
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Hi Buccaneer--Not only to you need a 3/4 ton to tow a 27' to 30' A/S, you also need a 4.10 rear if you are considering a small block V8.--Frank S
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Old 06-07-2006, 02:47 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your input. Looks like I be trading vehicles soon.
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Old 06-07-2006, 06:17 PM   #9
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Rear Ends: 4.10? 3.73?

Chev & GMC diesels with Allison trannys have 3.73 rear ends -- that is proper due to the design of how they work together. Thus the more powerful (in the end) lugging diesels do not need the 4.10. I believe Ford is the same though will not offer the final word. If this will become a major part of your life I must really say that diesel will rule from mountain top to seashore.
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Old 06-08-2006, 08:09 PM   #10
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Dodge single rear wheel models come with the 3.73; it's what mine has.

The duallies come standard with the 4.10 You don't need a dually with 4.10's to pull any Airstream.

Cheers,
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Old 06-18-2006, 12:50 PM   #11
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What an important question! I purchased a 30ft classic with a tow truck of 9500lbs. . Do research! I had to go to the truck dealers and pick up each brochure to find the actual towing capacity. DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!
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Old 06-18-2006, 02:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason01
What an important question! I purchased a 30ft classic with a tow truck of 9500lbs. . Do research! I had to go to the truck dealers and pick up each brochure to find the actual towing capacity. DON'T BELIEVE WHAT YOU READ ON THE INTERNET!
In our case, the internet site for Dodge actually had better, more complete information than marketing brochures. It just depends.
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Old 06-18-2006, 05:20 PM   #13
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I find in most cases the sales folks at most auto dealers are ill equipped to give you advice or recommendations in a tow vehicle. You need to do your research.

I remember going into one Chevy dealer asking him for the towing brochure (yes there was one at one time that covered all truck lines). He gave me a brochure on Suburban's. As I told him I was interested in vans and his statement was the vans were the same as the Suburban's. Even simple questions like height of the tow vehicle were important to me (due to the size of my garage door opening). 3/4 ton vans are taller than 1/2 tons.

While my salesperson who ordered my van for me was not experienced in tow vehicles, she did ask me questions regarding why I picked certain options, like axle ratio, why 3/4 ton etc. She even sent one of her potential customers to me asking me questions regarding my van purchase.

Jack
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Old 06-19-2006, 10:18 AM   #14
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I am towing a 2005 31' Classic with a 1999 half-ton Chevy Suburban, 5.7 vortec. Does nice on the level and really OK overall. But it is rated to pull 5500# and the trailer (wet) is about 8100#. So I am looking at the Chevy 1500 HD or ideally, the diesel.

Does anyone have good data on gas mileage for these two vehicles?

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Old 06-19-2006, 12:12 PM   #15
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The Astro won't cut it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buccaneer
My first question for anyone is, what kind of tow vehicle will I need for say a 27 to 30' Airstream? I currently own a Chevy Astro Van with a 4.3 vortec V6
and auto trans. Will this do the job?
The Astro won't cut it. We're towing a 1978 Argosy 24 with a 2000 GMC Safari. Marginal is the best I can give it. The older trailers tend to be lighter and GVWR on our 24 is right at the rated capacity for the van. Not the ideal situation. If you want to use the Astro you could "downsize" your trailer shopping. If you're not planning any trips in the mountains you could probabably do OK with an older Tradewind. An early 70's 22' Safari would be a good match.

If you're quest leads you to a 30' trailer and a new tow vehicle then you really shouldn't consider anything less than a 3/4 ton rating. I know the new 1/2 ton rigs are rated at 9-10,000 pounds towing capacity and would "get by" but if you're really buying this for the purpose of pulling a 30' trailer then why settle for marginal. Besides, you don't know what's going to show up used. Your dream trailer might turn out to be a 34'

-Bernie
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Old 06-19-2006, 12:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16595
I am towing a 2005 31' Classic with a 1999 half-ton Chevy Suburban, 5.7 vortec. Does nice on the level and really OK overall. But it is rated to pull 5500# and the trailer (wet) is about 8100#. So I am looking at the Chevy 1500 HD or ideally, the diesel.

Does anyone have good data on gas mileage for these two vehicles?

Dwight

My Ford '05 F250 PSD CC got
12 MPG this past weekend towing our 30' Safari... 420 miles roundtrip. Now with that said, we climbed from 1100 Feet in Phoenix to 8200 Feet in the White Mountains so she had a good work out this past weekend. On the open interstate we get 13-14 MPG when not towing in the mountains. My truck only has 12,000 miles on it and I've been told by many that mileage improves after break-in at approx 15,000 miles. I would highly recommend looking at the F250 I can't say enough good things about their tow command and integrated trailer brake as well as the telescoping mirrors. It was built to tow and it is a pleasure not having to worry about not having the right rig to get up a hill.
Quick story. This past weekend we were climbing a huge hill 7%+ grade and a guy in front of us was towing a very small pop-up tent trailer with his new Honda SUV with a V6. He seemed to be doing ok until we got the real part of the mountain. He barely could get up the hill and we passed him in the passing lane climbing a very steep grade like he was standing still. It made me think about how many people tow with a barely capable vehicle. It sure would make a trip very nerve-racking.
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Old 06-19-2006, 01:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16595
I am towing a 2005 31' Classic with a 1999 half-ton Chevy Suburban, 5.7 vortec. Does nice on the level and really OK overall. But it is rated to pull 5500# and the trailer (wet) is about 8100#. So I am looking at the Chevy 1500 HD or ideally, the diesel.

Does anyone have good data on gas mileage for these two vehicles?

Dwight
Dwight, I am really loving my 2005 Chevy 2500 HD with the Duramax Diesel and the 5-speed Allison. I purchased it last June for a trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and since then it has met or exceeded all expectations.

I knew I wanted a diesel, but I wasn't prepared for the sophistication and performance of the Allison tranny. This thing is amazing. In the tow-mode, the tranny takes over and does all the thinking for you. On the down hill grades in the mountains, once you give it a two second signal with the brake pedal, it takes over and does all the down shifting automatically to control your speed during the decent. This allows you to focus totally on the road and other traffic.

The combined mileage for 10,633 miles aound town and open highway towing is 13.3 mpg.
I have no data for highway mileage not towing.

Here are some individual trip data (mostly towing):

2000 Safari 27'
6/9/05 Albuquerque to Gallup 14.8 (70 mph)
6/11/05 Tuba City, AZ to North Rim 18.7 (55 mph)
6/13/05 North Rim to Kanab, UT 12.2 (all mountains)
6/14/05 Kanab to Kayenta, AZ 12.2
7/10/05 City/Highway combined not towing 17.8

76 Sovereign 31'
8/5/05 Albuquerque to Raton 12.5 (75 mph)
8/8/05 Raton to Colorado Springs 12.4 (75 mph)
8/20/05 Albuquerque to Clayton, NM 16.4 (65-72 mph, tailwind?)
8/22/05 Raton to Eagles Nest 14.6 (mountains)

You get the idea!

One more point, there is no way to describe how much less tiring towing becomes with an adequately powered tow vehicle. I had no idea it would make such a big difference, but towing is much less fatiguing to the human when the engine isn't straining. Go figure.
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Old 06-19-2006, 02:50 PM   #18
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Tow Vehicle

As someone else has already pointed out, this really depends on what year of Airstream you purchase. My grandparents had a 60's model AS that we towed to Kansas City every summer with a Buick Electra 225. The TV was a late 60's model and believe it or not, it handled that trailer perfectly.

So...if you purchase a vintage Airstream you might be able to avoid buying a pickup but I doubt it. Our previous AS was a 1975 31' Excella and a 1/2 ton crew cab truck wasn't enough. Best of luck and welcome to the club.

Mitch
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Old 06-19-2006, 04:19 PM   #19
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I can't speak for the pickups but I'm doing 10-11 mpg pulling the 30' slide out. I have the 6.0 liter engine with the 4.10 axle. This configuration with the 3/4 ton chasis gives me the larger transmission which does allow OD towing.

With my 5.7 liter 3.73 van I got 10-11 mpg pulling a 6,000 lb 27' Safari. That tranny required 3rd gear towing, no OD.

Jack
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Old 06-19-2006, 05:00 PM   #20
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There is a member here who routinely tows with a prepped astro van. Prepped meaning he has a trans cooler, etc.
After all the reading on this same subject i have been doing latley, it sure looks like a 3/4 ton diesel is the ticket, but a gasser will work, and a 1/2 ton might be ok if that is all you can afford.
I am shooting for the 3/4 ton diesel right now, but not sure where I will end up.
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