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Old 08-23-2013, 07:53 PM   #1
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Another Newbie, more TV questions

Hello all, first post here.

We have a 2009 25FB International and no TV as yet. and pretty lost over the question.
the trailer specs: GVWR: 7,300 lbs, hitch wt : 820.

not full timers, maybe 4 weeks a year, TV has to be a good driver, tired of bouncing around in my work trucks....

We initially were interested in the Mercedes GLK 350 Blue Tek or the VW Touareg TDI, both diesels. like these diesels a lot. the Mercedes max towing: 7,500, hitch wt. 575, the VW: 7,716 and 610 respectively. Regardless of how true this numbers are to fact, these seem too close for comfort. I can see that others tow with them and that Andy at CanAm may be able to make them work but I am uneasy about it. of course we will be using a weight transfer hitch and anti sway.(probably Hensley)

My big question today has to do with hitch wt and TV payload. We have not weighed the trailer yet but I have taken a reading of the hitch wt with my Sureline scale and was shocked that it was exactly 820 lbs with no added weight, tanks all below 1/4 full. I understand that we can distribute that load forward on the TV but with payloads for the TV running from 1,150 to 1,400 lbs I don't see much room for added load.

looking at GM and Fords tomorrow.

enjoy reading all the threads, so much info and entertainment too.

Gordon in Massachusetts
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Old 08-23-2013, 08:16 PM   #2
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You also need to look at axles and if the vehicle is made to tow, not if it can tow. Big difference in other vehicle components. A pickup is made to tow, if it is set up that way. I would think that any good half ton with a tow package would be better than a diesel SUV with marginal equipment. Don't forget, even with the improved mileage on a diesel engine, it does come with added maintenance and fuel costs, along with a very added initial cost for the diesel engine. Been there done that, now a die-hard gasser.
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Old 08-25-2013, 05:32 AM   #3
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Both the Mercedes and the Touareg should make fantastic tow vehicles, depending on the payload available - that and the axle rating are the two numbers I personally would never exceed. There's also a Jeep being launched that looks very interesting.

There are many that disagree, but I think that even today's trucks make terrible daily drivers and are actually a lot less safe to drive than a modern unibody vehicle with independent suspension and a low centre of gravity. The ride quality of a truck is also not something I would be prepared to put up with.

We find that for our use, which is weekends away and family holidays, we don't add much weight to the trailer. We don't have a TV on board, neither a microwave. Everything we buy for the trailer, from plates to toys, we do with an eye on weight. For example, we eat from vintage enamel plates rather than porcelain. It's possible to be very weight frugal.

Tanks, we travel empty. Dump last thing at the campground, fill fresh water upon arrival.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:04 AM   #4
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My neighbor rode in my 4x4 Tundra and commented...."this rides like a Cadillac".
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:24 AM   #5
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Personally, I go with as much tv as I comfortable with as a daily driver. I have also went from 15 years of diesel TV's to gas and am very happy. The advantage gap has closed especial pulling an Airstream
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Old 08-25-2013, 07:49 AM   #6
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I will attempt to provide a respectful, but opposing, view of the 3/4 ton tow vehicle choice.

We are happy with our GMC 2500.

With a four wheel drive independent front suspension it rides quite nicely.

It has never once been dangerous.

There are "dirty" items I prefer not to haul inside the trailer or passenger compartment.

Generators and fuel, grills and charcoal, and sometimes toys I like to use while staying somewhere in the comfort of my Airstream, to name a few.

I like my television and microwave. Along with climate control and a water closet, these appliances are why we chose to leave tent camping behind.

I also enjoy not having to pick which dishes I want to use by the limitations in my choice of tow vehicle.

I can carry extra water and supplies for an extended "boondock" in remote locales.

I suppose one could apply the label of over-consumming, vulgar American to some of these pursuits, and those folks can have at it.

Choose whatever tow vehicle limitations you prefer to accept.

A rig that simply can move your trailer from one location another with a limited amount of gear and makes a great rig for running to the grocery store or the kids to school.

Or a rig that can tow your trailer any locale with whatever stuff you like and still do the other in amble comfort, too.

Regards,

JD
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:19 AM   #7
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Your intended use of both Airstream and tow vehicle should be your key deciding factor when selecting that you tow with. Is it going to be your daily driver? What do you want to haul when you camp? Where do you want to go? Boondocking or full service campgrounds?

A pick-up truck isn't the greatest daily driver if you live in a town, and isn't as sure footed as, say, a modern SUV or Sedan. However, if you're intending to take a generator with you, firewood, grills and other stuff like that then that relatively economical SUV becomes a liability and the bed of a truck is unbeatable. It's horses for courses.

I live in a town, have kids and my TV is my daily driver. The prospect of boondocking after tent camping doesn't appeal at all; give me full service any day. We travel light, which may be a throwback to tent camping and back packing, and tend to stick to the paths more well traveled. For me, a truck isn't a sensible option.

Whatever you decide, though, your Airstream will outlive your TV so you can always change it if you feel you chose wrongly to start with, or to suit your changing needs.
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LFC View Post
My neighbor rode in my 4x4 Tundra and commented...."this rides like a Cadillac".
I didn't realize it was quite that bad







I kid, I kid. Scout's honour. I've been told before that the Tundra rides well

The horses for courses comment is correct in my opinion.

We don't boondock in remote wildernesses either, we tend to camp in Provincial Parks. 80% of the time we have power available, the remainder we dry camp but rarely longer than a week. I am still working on getting the trailer to where I want it to be - next spring will see the full solar/composting/larger grey tank conversion.

For full-timers, people who carry bikes or boats, remote boondockers, a truck becomes a necessity for sure, over a certain size trailer.

I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: There are those look at Airstreaming as camping and there are those who look at it as taking their house with them. We look at it as camping.

Both are perfectly reasonable ways to look at the world and one should choose one's tools accordingly.

As far as tow vehicles are concerned, I live in the downtown centre of one of North America's largest cities. I've got three young kids and the vehicle is my daily driver. Add to this my safety concerns about trucks and also that I am a bit of a treehugger and a truck just isn't an option.

I have no issue with people choosing a truck as a TV, but it's not the only valid, safe and practical option as is so often stated.
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Old 08-25-2013, 03:15 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your responses. sorting out all the factors has been difficult and your comments have been very helpful. We expect to be doing some limited boondocking, certainly a few trips to spots with no facilities and terrain that might tax a TV on the lighter end, and certainly many stop overs and destinations with "facilities". Extended weekends and extended trips. And we know we do not travel light, even when we fly places. so as much as we prefer the "smaller" SUV, the Mercedes, the Touareg even the Cayenne (if we could afford it!), and they probably could "handle" the trailer ok, we feel that we will be pushing the payload and the axle rating. And as one of you said the AS will outlive the TV, we can make changes as we learn and experience, but want to start with some flexibilty and assurance. So we're trying out some pickups, extended cabs, yes the Tundra. And as we age the comfort of the seat becomes a deciding factor as well! Thank you all! we'll keep you posted.
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Old 08-27-2013, 04:43 PM   #10
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Just a thought or two for you.

Most 1/2 tons have very little if any extra rated payload than the GL Mercedes or Touareg.

On the 1/2 ton it is much harder to transfer weight to the front wheels due to the distance and a little due to the chassis flex.

If you like getting into state and provincial parks the Touareg etc is considerably more maneuverable than a pick up. I can park a 30 in a site with a Touareg that I won't get a 25 into with a pick up.

The ride and handling are both dramatically better with the 4 wheel independent suspension SUV's.

If you look at the chassis components on the Touareg BMW Mercedes they are all more robust than the equivalent pick up components and the chassis is much stronger.

The GL in Europe has its rear axle rating boosted by 500 pounds as long as speed is limited to 62 MPH.

Then again you can carry a lot of stuff in a pick up bed.

There is no one right answer for everyone but from a an ability to tow, stop make an emergency maneuver and I would bet longevity of the chassis the SUV's win hands down. I think the standards in Europe are more demanding than here for chassis components. My 2004 Jag which has 80,000 hard miles on it has never needed a ball joint tie rod end etc, and the steering still makes pretty much anything else I drive feel sort of loose and wandering.

I hope this helps.

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Old 08-27-2013, 05:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
I will attempt to provide a respectful, but opposing, view of the 3/4 ton tow vehicle choice.

We are happy with our GMC 2500.

With a four wheel drive independent front suspension it rides quite nicely.

It has never once been dangerous.

There are "dirty" items I prefer not to haul inside the trailer or passenger compartment.

Generators and fuel, grills and charcoal, and sometimes toys I like to use while staying somewhere in the comfort of my Airstream, to name a few.

I like my television and microwave. Along with climate control and a water closet, these appliances are why we chose to leave tent camping behind.

I also enjoy not having to pick which dishes I want to use by the limitations in my choice of tow vehicle.

I can carry extra water and supplies for an extended "boondock" in remote locales.

I suppose one could apply the label of over-consumming, vulgar American to some of these pursuits, and those folks can have at it.

Choose whatever tow vehicle limitations you prefer to accept.

A rig that simply can move your trailer from one location another with a limited amount of gear and makes a great rig for running to the grocery store or the kids to school.

Or a rig that can tow your trailer any locale with whatever stuff you like and still do the other in amble comfort, too.

Regards,

JD
I wanted to add to their comments:
1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks generally have bigger brakes and tires. Important for load and important for stopping. Our 11 Jeep Grand Cherokee had almost as much horsepower as our 11 Ram 1/2 ton truck, but most will tell you that the problem is not getting the load moving, it is stopping the load and controlling the load on mountain passes. Longer wheelbase is also nice for stability.

Something that you don't see mentioned , but is very critical ...integrated trailer brake controller. This is very important because these are integrated with the vehicles stability control and is some cases, trailer sway control. The integrated controllers are light years ahead of event he Tekonsha p3 that I used a few years ago on my older TV to haul horses.

On the 3/4 ton side of the equation, you have even bigger brakes and you have an exhaust brake. Really nice for steep inclines and declines(Mountain passes). I don't use the truck brakes or trailer brakes on our 27FB when going down passes, and in most cases exiting the highway! My particular TV has electronic stability control, brake assist, rain brake support, ready alert braking, traction control, electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist and trailer sway control. These systems are not designed to replace safe towing habits and common sense, but they are very nice to have when something goes haywire.

If I had to step away from a diesel truck and choose something else for towing, I would select a 1/2 ton pickup before choosing an SUV. Most trucks have a heavy duty cooling option that is added as part of the towing package. Keeping those transmission components cool while towing extends the life of the vehicle.

Good luck on choosing a TV, hope this helps.
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Old 08-28-2013, 05:49 AM   #12
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Hi JD

Thanks for the thoughtful response I would like to clarify and couple of things.
We drive HD trucks all the time, and we always have one or two around the store for towing fifths. Last fall I participated in a Canadian event called “Truck King Challenge” where I was able to drive a and ride in each of the HD trucks towing 40’ Fifth wheels. All 3 were 4x4 dual wheel long boxes so big trucks, the fifths had 2800 pounds of pin weight and all three could spin the back tires with the trailer attached. More torque than you can actually put on the road. Comparing the 3 trucks I voted for the GM but I said if buying I would get a 2WD dodge.

By all means if you want a 2500 HD have one, just don’t feel you have to have one if another vehicle suites your lifestyle better. I don’t want to imply that a 2500 is dangerous as long as you are aware that you are driving an 8000 pound vehicle and most people are. I just want to balance those that think safety is somehow related to vehicle size. Suspension tires and centre of gravity are more important for handling capability than size alone. 4x4 Fords and Dodges with their straight front axles are quite a bit less capable in an emergency maneuver than the GM 4x4 but the 2WD Fords and Dodges are fine. A 2WD Dodge is the best handling HD truck.

Certainly it is much easier to carry a large generator in the pick up or anything else bulky and heavy, motorcycles etc. However with any of our combinations you can carry what you want in the trailer. We always recommend out customers tow with full water tanks and carry whatever dishes etc. they want. If you can carry it in the Airstream cabinets the weight is not an issue.

I do have concerns about the ride in the trailer when towing with a HD vehicle. If you ride in the Airstream there is a dramatic difference between a vehicle with independent rear suspension and HD truck. I think the air ride on the new Dodge 2WD might help this out quite a bit however, if it sells well I am sure you will see it on GM’s and Fords soon.

If you like to get into tight campsites but want the HD truck one good option is a front hitch. It allows you to wiggle the trailer into some pretty small places.

Again it all gets down to personal choice. I have a customer that has a 1500 Dodge and a ML Mercedes both set up for towing but he tows most of the time with the Dodge just for the carrying space.

I have another customer that had a Duramax setup for towing but bought an Touarag as a second car and set it up just for going south so they would not have to drive the big truck for 3 months as a solo vehicle. After a year they sold the Duramax because they so prefered the Touareg.

Hi Alphainfinite

Today brakes on a ton are actually smaller in relation to the vehicle weight than those on the Jeep or most SUV’s. Today’s tons have far more braking capability than ’s of just a few years ago. With these new 6 & 8 speed transmissions controlling decent in hills is pretty easy with almost any vehicle. You need to have the RPM high enough to get good engine braking, what we always say is that if you are using brakes to control speed then you are in the wrong gear and need to shift down.

Your 2011 Jeep will never handle optimally without strengthening the hitch receiver as it won't transfer weight properly without doing so. Also the Jeep tires are geared more for off road so we would normally recomend changing them to a more optimal size and type for towing or just use a Hensley.

Andrew T
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:12 PM   #13
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Thank you all. I t would be so much simpler if we actually had a real dislike of either an SUV or a pickup! Our biggest concern is to be comfortable with our choice as long as the ride is smooth, the seats good for our seats, and room for our stuff.

One of my concerns is that the actual tongue weight on my sureline scale with full propane and 1/4 full water tanks is already at 820 lbs. (same as the AS spec.) If I use the GVWR of the trailer, 7,300 lbs., 12% hitch weight goes up to 876 lbs. VW rates the Touareg payload at 1155. that's only 279 lbs of "cargo", luckily we are small folk! Touareg hitch is rated at 610lbs which I assume can be overcome with WD. Andy, I hear you saying the Touareg can handle more payload, that the European standard is greater, is there a difference between European assembled models and those manufactured in North American, are they made to the same standard? And I hear you and others say that the hitches need beefing up, modifications; it seems unlikely that i would be able to bring my SUV to you for work, we are in Massachusetts, do you know a competent hitch guy in our area? Are you available for a phone consult some time?

With much appreciation to all,

Gordon aka Tractor
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Old 08-28-2013, 01:23 PM   #14
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If money matters...

Pickups are sometimes less expensive than their SUV counterparts.
Silverados/Sierras are less than Suburbans/Tahoes/Yukons/Escalades.
Tundras are less than Sequoias.
F150s are less than Expeditions.
And so on and so forth...
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