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Old 12-09-2012, 03:47 AM   #57
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First, as a Newby on this forum, thank you to everyone for the posts. This is great! I'm pretty cautious, thus my desire to do my homework now before my purchase. I'm in that camp of wanting to use my vehicle that gets great mileage 90% of the time it's used, and willing to live with much lower mileage the 10%. My FWD non-eco boost Flex gets 28-29 on the highway, which is outstanding. On my trip to Canada this fall with the car super loaded and a tailgate carrier loaded I got 25mpg. I couldn't believe it. I'm planning on that going down when I tow a trailer to 12 - 15. That does mean stopping for fuel more, but I'm a chic, and who am I kidding, I stop for a break every 3 or 4 hours anyway.

One thing I'm wondering about is if I can trust the info Airstream has on their site for older models. In looking at the early 1960s specs there are big weight jumps between model years. E. G., 1960 26 ft Overlander models at between 3150 and 3250 with tongue weights under 310ish. Then just a few years later the numbers jump by 500 or more lbs. The floor plans don't look that much different, with the exception of the addition of two chests in one. So, what on earth could be the reason for the substantial jump? The only thing I could conclude was that in 1960 they may have been using the lighter tube style frame from the previous decade.
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Old 12-09-2012, 05:18 AM   #58
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As long as you strengthen the reciever and set the hitch up properly the weight of the Airstream is not going to be that critical. If you cannot find a local person to do it you are not a very long drive from our store and we can help you out with that.

Are you focusing on a 60's model just becasue of the weight? You can easily tow a 1969-1982' 27', they are a considerably better Airstream for actual use. Maybe not quite as cool but everything windows, systems, structure are all considerably better. Your cost when you are done making everything operational is likely to be quite a bit less as well.

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Old 12-09-2012, 06:06 AM   #59
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Truck and car payload ratings are apples and oranges...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post
The Ford Payload capacity on a Naturally aspirated Flex is 1337 pounds the Ford Payload on our 2012 F150 is 1560 pounds.

So should I really recommend to a customer a tow vehicle that uses more gas, is less stable, has a less rigid structure, is less safe and may not suite their lifestyle in any way for 227 pounds of payload capacity? If it is designed with that little leaway then you don't want the car anyway. Most people add a topper and running boards to the F150 then it actually has less payload than the Flex.
Be careful about using the payload comparison between trucks and cars. I know from my Dad (who was an engine development engineer at Ford) that in the 80's and 90's trucks were always qualified at 75-90% payload, while cars are qualified with just the driver and some test equipment on-board (i.e. ~250 lbs of payload).

That's because trucks are often used extensively with payload on-board whereas cars are usually just the driver and a couple of passengers.

I'm not suggesting you can't tow a 34' Airstream with a minivan. I'm just saying that if you choose to do so, you're pushing the vehicle far beyond it's design/qualification envelope.

I've seen plenty of Ford Focus sized cars towing lightweight travel trailers in Europe - but it's also not uncommon to see them on the side of the road overheating, with burned up clutches or other mechanical failures.

I'd feel pretty comfortable towing my '63 globetrotter (~3700# gross weight) with a Ford Flex (with tow package) but I would never put it behind a Ford Edge. I currently tow with an '06 Explorer (4x2, V6 with tow pkg) with great confidence.

As my Dad (35 years at Ford) would always say "you pay your money and you take your chances" -- I like to keep my odds high so I stick with the factory recommendations on towing capability.

just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary, offer ends at midnight tonight...

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Old 12-09-2012, 06:20 AM   #60
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Originally Posted by Yostella1963 View Post
One thing I'm wondering about is if I can trust the info Airstream has on their site for older models. In looking at the early 1960s specs there are big weight jumps between model years. E. G., 1960 26 ft Overlander models at between 3150 and 3250 with tongue weights under 310ish. Then just a few years later the numbers jump by 500 or more lbs.
This may be related to what weight they publish. My 1963 19' globetrotter is 2990 lbs in the brochure and weighed 3020 lbs EMPTY. I've never weighed it loaded but I would guess between 3400 and 3500 lbs.

Airstream (or more likely the government) may have changed how trailer weights were quoted in specifications in that time frame.

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Old 12-09-2012, 07:36 AM   #61
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Hi Matt

I have driven about 8,000 miles in Europe in the summer and passed at least a couple of thousand trailers on the road and I have never seen one one pulled over and over heating.

The Edge and Flex are identical drivetrains and on the same platform. The Edge is a slightly better tow vehicle due to its shorter overhang to wheelbase ratio.

Mini Vans generally have more load capacity than 1/2 ton trucks they are not overloaded when you tow with one.

This is not some occasional experiment we have over 1000 customers who are towing or have towed extensively with mini vans. One of our customers full times in a 1996 34 but for many years they were still working and had to travel a lot. They towed with an SUV from 96-99 but since they were putting 35000 miles a year on a vehicle they wanted better fuel economy and more storage space in a vehicle they could park downtown in the cities they worked in. They bought a 99 Windstar and put 210,000 miles on it and then replaced it with a 2005 Freestar that they still have and it has 200,000 on it. He figures he would be $60,000 - 80,000 poorer today had he gone the Suburban route in 99. Most of their towing is done between BC and Arizona. $60,000 they have had very little trouble with either van. The Edge and Flex are both better vehicles than the Windstar.

On none of our vehicles are we having payload related problems, not burnt bearings, suspension components brakes etc all last a normal amount of time. I have never had a structural issue on any of our tow vehicles. Actually that is wrong I did see a broken frame on a customers F250. (likely just a bad piece of steel).

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Old 12-09-2012, 08:17 AM   #62
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Facts please!

1/2 T C1500 Ext cab, reg bed 2Wd = 1757 Cargo capacity
Sienna = 1615
Town and country = 1398

Can you load a truck up, (4wd, long bed, crew cab....and strip spec a mini van down to lighten the curb weight and make it carry more by spec....maybe.

I got bored after these two checks, you may find some, but blanket, unverified statements aren't helpful.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:28 AM   #63
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Facts please!
Note* Load Capacity info was obtained from the April 2002 Annual Auto issue of Consumers Mag. page 28 /29

Ford Excursion XLT V8------------------------------1,630 lbs
Ford Villager / Nissan Quest V6--------------------1,450 lbs
Chev Tahoe LT-------------------------------1,395 lbs
Ford Windstar V6--------------------------1,360 lbs
Dodge Ram 1500 4.7 V8-----------------1,350 lbs
Jeep Grand Cherokee LTD (V8)------1,150 lbs
Nissan Pathfinder LE V6---------1,030 lbs
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:36 AM   #64
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I am astonished by the actual hands-on experience Andrew has had with tow vehicles. And, the amount of real world user experience he has accumulated by setting up some 1,000 TVs. I wonder if any of the spec-sheet readers has setup anywhere near the variety of TVs that Andrew has?

Andrew has a huge, longstanding RV business selling Airstreams. I gather for something like 30 years. I wonder is that business would survive if his customers were rolling their rigs off mountain tops, breaking down on every camping trip, burning their TVs out prematurely, or dying in fiery crashes?

While the average spec-reader seems to have only setup a pickup truck or two, Andrew has setup vans, sedans, SUVs, sports cars, mini-vans, crossovers and pick up trucks by the hundreds. And, has road testing facilities to demonstrate the capabilities.

The benefits of the empirical method (observation, induction, deduction, testing, evaluation) are how all science advances. There is no development and no discovery possible by manipulating sets of specifications on parts. Without direct experience, everything is just hot air.

The very first skepticism about the specifications quoted by so many here ought to be that many of these specifications are guided by marketing people. Furthermore, none of these specifications comes with an explanation of test methods, or even the specific meaning of the specification. Are these maximum failure points? Nominal? Is there a built in margin? What is it? How was this measured? Empirically or statistically, or simply a guestimate? Without answers to all of those questions, the specifications have precious little meaning to the scientist or the tinkerer.

Andrew seems to have recognized that somewhere in his history. He then replaced guesswork with experimentation, and voila, the proof is in the pudding.

Of course, there is the odd chance that it is a big lie, and that his customers are all lying in the road dead somewhere in the bleak expanse of Canada's tundra - wheels up. But, you would think that at least a few of them might have Internet (even in Canada!) and might report in that their Flex broke in two pieces and left the trailer running on it's own down the Interstate somewhere. If these reports exist, I haven't found them.

In fairness to the spec-reporters, America loves BigArse Trucks as much as they love baseball and apple pie. So, some bias is totally understandable and forgivable. When you have a hammer....etc....etc....etc.

I suppose if Andrew was to compile a book, with all the documented cases and the put all the evidence together, it might be more persuasive than a few Internet posts. But even short of that, the evidence looks rather overwhelming. At least until the spec-reporters begin to show busted up tow rigs lying on the side of the road!

(All in good fun)
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:24 AM   #65
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Note* Load Capacity info was obtained from the April 2002 Annual Auto issue of Consumers Mag. page 28 /29

Ford Excursion XLT V8------------------------------1,630 lbs
Ford Villager / Nissan Quest V6--------------------1,450 lbs
Chev Tahoe LT-------------------------------1,395 lbs
Ford Windstar V6--------------------------1,360 lbs
Dodge Ram 1500 4.7 V8-----------------1,350 lbs
Jeep Grand Cherokee LTD (V8)------1,150 lbs
Nissan Pathfinder LE V6---------1,030 lbs

Be careful of apples to apples comparisons. Every cab configuration, every "standard" upgrade in a trim level, etc...etc... changes things.

Sure you could use a crew cab, 4wd, long bed, LTZ truck full of video screens, carpet, leather, power everything and compare to a Caravan cargo van and come up with the numbers you want to see.

Overall you will not find NCC higher in like equipped minivans over like equipped 1/2 ton PUs, as was the original post comparison. SUVs a different comparison....ESPECIALLY the Excursion. It was an overweight bloated ride from the git go, leaving little NCC.

You may find some examples, but my issue is with BLANKET STATEMENTS as presented to support only OPINIONS which are in themselves often borne out of a desire to disregard any and all vehicle manufacturers specifications. ALL mfrs......some conspiracy among all those "marketing departments", I guess. They must all have gatherings where they agree to understate their vehicles' capabilities (in a hugely competitive market) so as to deceive the world's population, for no apparent reason.
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Old 12-10-2012, 12:45 AM   #66
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I think (my opinion here) that driving one of the properly set up Flexs (or any "non traditional" tow vehicle combo's) would be an interesting & gratifiying experiance. If I am presented with the opprotunity I will take it. I have no problem with modifying vehicles, I am aware that they are modified however & use them knowing that they may not respond in the manner in which they were designed. My wonder lies in the question of whether or not the owners of the modified vehicles are knowingly accepting the limitations that the modified vehicles pose. When the rear unibody of a vehicle is modified to the point that it will carry the added tongue weight & gross weight above what the vehicle was designed to handle I cannot believe that the integrity of the unibody is unaffected. Rear end crashes happen.......fuel tanks rupture.....the OEM's send large sums trying to lessen these risks. As has been pointed out to me on this forum many times, the fact that something has'nt happened yet....does not mean it will not happen. Ford has sold a LOT of Crown Vics....the fuel tanks on a few exploded on impact & cost Ford millions of dollars. My point is, if you drive a Flex with a modified hitch so you can pull more than the vehicle was designed to do don't expect the crash worthiness to be the same as Ford advertises!
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:19 AM   #67
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Andrew, I love the test drive idea. I will be getting in touch in the new year to come up for a test drive, that's awesome.. And I'll be able to return the 4 cases of empty Molsen Stock Ale bottles that I've been accumulating in my basement!

To answer your question, yes focusing on a 60's model because of the weight. I'm going to be living in the Airstream part of the year when I retire, so I want the longest possible with the lightest tow. I'm planning to work with an architect to gut and redo the interior. I actually would prefer starting with a newer model, since it would save money on systems and windows that wouldn't need to be replaced. I'm just wondering if it's possible with lighter weight materials for counter tops and cupboards, etc., to keep a newer one at a dry weight of 3500 to 3600 lbs. A question for the architect. But I like having the data for myself, and doing some footwork before I jump! I would love to find data on what the models weight before all the stuff is installed. It would take some doing, but would some 'what if' analysis possible on a finished remodel.

It might have to alter my idea.... In this case I might not be able to make the big idea work. I do really want to stay at a dry weight under 3600 or maybe even as much as 3800. I guess I want to make sure in 20 years when I'm almost 70 I'm still comfortable towing my rig.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:34 AM   #68
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The Ford Payload capacity on a Naturally aspirated Flex is 1337 pounds the Ford Payload on our 2012 F150 is 1560 pounds.
Andrew, the payload capacity, according to Ford when they called me Saturday on my question I asked on the 2013 Flex payload is 1160 lbs for the most beefed up model. If you look at the posts here, everyone that approves of a Flex to pull anything focuses on the engine power. That is part of it. I will say that the Flex front wheel drive is not as rugged as an F150 truck. A flex with a car frame does not perform as good or better than a truck from the same company in towing and payload.

Just like the picture above that RocketManKen posted with the Honda Passport hauling the larger AS; companies can say anything. What would happen if a person bought a Flex and started pulling a larger Airstream around and had a transmission failure within a year? Modified or not, if the person were honest with Ford, their warranty would be void. You mention the German SUVs. Porsche and VW suvs have a great frame but they are limited to just over 600 lbs tongue weight depending on the model year. I looked at that one specifically. As I have shared, my 25' is the lightest 25 in the post 2000 models BUT with my 980 lb tongue weight (860 as per AS) I would be around 400 lbs more tongue than that vehicle could handle AND consider the power of the six cylinder, the drive train, etc. Trucks for towing even have beefed up axles, cooling systems, suspension upgrades and other items, from the factory to meet the need. People will often do anything to avoid what they should do or get. Strengthening a rear frame area on a car to pull some extra weight is OK but when it gets to a great deal of extra weight it becomes an issue. That is what my concern is and, yes, I am looking at the numbers given be those who make the vehicle as they would be held accountable if a failure occurred within their specs.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:46 AM   #69
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I tow with a pick up because I need the truck for other things and I like to carry my bikes and kayak in there when towing. The newer trucks ride great and I like the visibility of the extra height. That said, the extra height of the newer trucks makes everything else worse. The first truck maker, foreign or domestic, that goes back to a lower to the ground vehicle gets my business.
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Old 12-10-2012, 07:08 AM   #70
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The 'Just ask a salesman' was sent with (apparently undetected) sarcasim. I am guessing that Honda does not recomend towing 7500lbs with the Odessey. Even if you do have the Hensley arrow. Nothing against salesman, but often they are more interested in moving a unit than whether it will make it from MI to FL.
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