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Old 04-02-2015, 10:26 AM   #1
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Cargo Van for Towing

For stealth camping in a city, I'd potentially like to purchase a used "beater" cargo van (either gas or diesel), which I can convert into a minimalist RV. The van needs enough towing capacity to haul an approximately 6000 lb Airstream trailer, perhaps 3000 miles per year, and maybe (big maybe) 15-20 mpg when towing. Possible?
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Old 04-02-2015, 10:59 AM   #2
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Not going to get that mileage unless you find a diesel and are extremely light footed.

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Old 04-02-2015, 11:23 AM   #3
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Even the diesel vans (rare, expensive) will be sub 15mpg, I think.

Ford made diesel vans, here's one: Cars for Sale: 2006 Ford E-350 and Econoline 350 Super Duty in Denver, CO 80221: Van Details - 396323593 - Autotrader
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:44 AM   #4
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These people tow an Airstream with a van:

An Airstream Travel Blog |Mali Mish
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Old 04-02-2015, 11:45 AM   #5
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Another thing, if you are only towing 3,000 miles per year, the MPG's won't matter all that much.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:43 PM   #6
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That goal is very achievable with an Express/Savana 2500 van.
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Old 04-03-2015, 12:59 PM   #7
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U can tow trailers with big vans


I'm not sure how steathy U can b with an A/S in tow, but U can easily tow with a big van & sleep in it with min. or much eqpt.

Purists look at rear axle to hitch receiver distance as a measure of TV spec. The longer the distance the worse the TV. On the road my extended Ford van MH does fine, even with its long axle to bumper #.

I see 25 year old Ford vans & class C all the time. Seems like they can be kept going for decades. I expect mine to still be in use in 2115. Hey, it will be a family legacy !
Go for one, it will be good !
Let's Roll !
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:50 PM   #8
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I think the Mercedes sprinter diesel looks like an interesting option.

Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter For Sale - CarGurus
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:57 PM   #9
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Be REALLY CAREFUL using a Sprinter as a tow vehicle. I have posted extensively about my 5 year experience towing me '06 19 CCD with my old '04 Sprinter 2500.

6000 lbs............you would need a newer 3500 short wheel base low roof ONLY!


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Old 04-03-2015, 05:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcrum View Post
I think the Mercedes sprinter diesel looks like an interesting option.

Used Mercedes-Benz Sprinter For Sale - CarGurus
We tow our 28' International with a Mercedes Sprinter diesel. In order to tow more than 5000 lbs, you must have the one-ton (3500). Our AS is 6980 when fully loaded, and the Sprinter handles it fine--you're definitely going slowly uphill, but can hold 45 mph on the steepest grades we've encountered so far. If we cruise the interstate at 70-75, we only get 11-12 mpg, but if we hold to 55-60mph, we're getting about 14.7 mpg.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:17 PM   #11
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Hi!

I have a 28' 2014 International Onyx that I tow with a 2011 Ford Econoline 150 Cargo Van. I had the same idea that you do, although time has not allowed me to 'stealth' out my van!

I have been traveling since the beginning of December, 2014 (only in California). I have no problems towing with my van and have found it to get really great gas mileage, about 18-22 MPG. I made sure that the van was set up properly to tow my Airstream with the right receiver attached to the frame at the Ford dealer as it was not set up for towing when I bought it.

It really is great to have a van for smaller excursions and just day to day driving. I put a futon bed in the back and carry my extra stuff, like tools and toys for my son (almost 2 years old!).

I was worried that I wasn't getting the best tow vehicle for tow capacity and have wondered about diesel trucks or vans. You might see if you can test tow, if that is possible, with the vehicles you are interested in prior to buying one. (I didn't and wish I could have).

I also thought about a Mercedes diesel SUV (450 something or other...) and also a large pickup, but all in all, the advantages of having a second RV have been great.
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:20 AM   #12
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Not much towing capacity for an A/S Interstate

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Be REALLY CAREFUL using a Sprinter as a tow vehicle. I have posted extensively about my 5 year experience towing me '06 19 CCD with my old '04 Sprinter 2500.

6000 lbs............you would need a newer 3500 short wheel base low roof ONLY!


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I 100% agree with Lew. If you plan to buy an Interstate and tow with it, you must be aware of the actual weight of the Interstate and lay this off against the GCWR. I recently visited a new A/S dealer (Dixie RV) and found about 12 A/S trailers and 8 Interstates, all new, on the lot. A rather good selection, I thought. I left with a new A/S brochure and one for the Interstate models. When I looked at the GCWR of the Interstates less the factory stated weights, I found most have only 4400 to 5000 towing capacity left. Unless one plans to run several thousand pounds over the GCWR limit, an Interstate will only be able to tow the smallest A/S trailers.

The weight of the TV can eat up the GCWR limit, even though the "empty cargo van" tow rating may be adequate. After the RV conversion is made there may not enough left in the CGWR to tow what you want to tow. I believe most class B MHs roll out at GVWR or maybe a little bit more. Mine does.

If your TV's tow rating when empty is adequate and you don't exceed the GCWR by more than, say, 2000 pounds when hooked up, you may be able to use it. But don't use this statement as justification...... I just think this is what people do. Remember, the TV's brakes stop the TV and the trailer's brakes stop the trailer. If your Interstate TV is rated to tow your trailer's weight but the conversion added a lot of weight to the Interstate, then what are you going to be able to do? It would be so much better if MB would raise the GCWR from 15, 250 to 20,000 pounds.

Let's Roll !
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Streamalong View Post
Hi!

I have a 28' 2014 International Onyx that I tow with a 2011 Ford Econoline 150 Cargo Van. I had the same idea that you do, although time has not allowed me to 'stealth' out my van!

I have been traveling since the beginning of December, 2014 (only in California). I have no problems towing with my van and have found it to get really great gas mileage, about 18-22 MPG. I made sure that the van was set up properly to tow my Airstream with the right receiver attached to the frame at the Ford dealer as it was not set up for towing when I bought it.

It really is great to have a van for smaller excursions and just day to day driving. I put a futon bed in the back and carry my extra stuff, like tools and toys for my son (almost 2 years old!).

I was worried that I wasn't getting the best tow vehicle for tow capacity and have wondered about diesel trucks or vans. You might see if you can test tow, if that is possible, with the vehicles you are interested in prior to buying one. (I didn't and wish I could have).

I also thought about a Mercedes diesel SUV (450 something or other...) and also a large pickup, but all in all, the advantages of having a second RV have been great.
Hi Streamalong , If you can find one, look at a Ford Towing Brochure, 2011 if possible. It will tell you exactly how much you can tow with your vehicle, engine and transmission combination. Looking at your MPG report, I'm thinking you have a small engine, so that will lower the tow rating. A 28' A/S is getting toward the upper end of Ford van tow ratings. My E-250 large V8 has a rating of 7400 pounds. You should be able to find the tow brochure on line. Beware that you can't depend on a 2015 brochure to apply to your 2011 van. Ford changes HP ratings and upgrades their transmissions all the time, so only rely on the specs for a 2011 vehicle, please.

Sounds as if you are doing OK so far, and good luck for your future travels.
Let's Roll !

Wolf
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Old 04-07-2015, 10:40 AM   #14
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On your Ford E 150, what is the engine size, transmission, and rear axle?
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