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Old 08-14-2011, 07:53 PM   #1
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Disappointed & undersized...=(

We found our 2nd AS a year ago, and since, we've noticed towing a 34' to be more sluggish than our old 30.' Naively, I thought we'd just pack up and go camping like we used to w/our old pop-up, but not so. The constant bouncing in the F-250 makes for a most uncomfortable ride for me, and we don't dare approach hills, let alone mountains, since we are maxed out weight wise. I grew up with "tent-camping" vacations, so did our children and extended family; we looked forward to each new season and adventure. Unfortunately, this 34' + F250 gas towing experience has been so disappointing
I'm considering giving up.

Any sage advice welcomed.

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Old 08-14-2011, 08:00 PM   #2
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Disappointed & undersized...=(

Greetings Lucy 749!

If your Ford F250 is having trouble towing a 34' Airstream there are likely some underlying problems . . . .
  • If the truck doesn't have the largest available gas V8 or the Diesel, the differential gearing is absolutely crucial. I suspect the bare minimum would be 4.10 with possibly 4.56 being a consideration.
  • If the ride while towing is the greatest issue, there is much that can be done through hitch adjustment and proper setup. Sometimes, a very minor change in the hitch setup will transfrom an unpleasant ride characteristic to something much more acceptable.
With more precise information about your F250 and how it is equipped as well as what type of hitch you are utilizing will likely bring much more useful information as to possible corrective measures.

Good luck with your investigation!


Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:18 PM   #3
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I agree w Kevin. We tow our 34' 3 axle w an F250 diesel and have to remind ourselves it is still back there because it tows like a dream. We get about 16 miles per gallon. Must be something with your truck or setup. Do you have stabilizer bars?
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:42 PM   #4
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maybe i'm the naive one here, but a pop up camper and a 34 footer, plus gear, seems like a lot of weight to me. I await your vehicle specs, as requested by overlander64, before saying too much.
Did you want fries with that?
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Old 08-14-2011, 09:39 PM   #5
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Thanks all for the quick responses!

First, we are NOT towing a 34' AS and a pop-up. Years ago, we began our camping life using tents, then excitedly moved up to a pop-up; years later, we bought our first AS which was a 30' Excella, but currently, we tow our 34' Excella Classic. Next, my dilemma is: a) quit camping, b) sell the tow vehicle, c) sell the AS and tow vehicle, d) buy a motorhome or e) take less frequent trips but fly and stay in hotels, f) stay home and watch National Geographic or PBS travel shows, g) none of the above. Since both of us have enjoyed our campouts and would miss the excursions, we must choose b), c) or d).

What we tow our 34' with is the problem as Overlander pointed out. Our F250 is a gas, small V-8, and she does not have the high-geared differential. The hitch set-up is original; it's level and pulls well my better half says. We use the stabilizer bars, but do not have the anti-sway mechanism which we have been told might make system "track better."

Ours is a case of, "when you know better, you do better." In defense, we hoped we continue to use the F250 because she has new seats, radio and darker window tints; however, she'll make a great TV for a different unit!
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Old 08-14-2011, 10:57 PM   #6
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Well, if you're that unhappy with the performance of the truck, but so committed to keeping it then here are a few options. 1) increase HP & Torque in the truck, 2) lighten the load of the trailer, 3) increase your patience.

For option 1, you could add a tuner and a Banks Power System. If you have the tiny gears, bigger gears should be around $350 plus 3 hours of labor (or twice that for 4x4) and will make a big difference in the hills.

I noticed in your images, you have the tow mirrors on the truck. Usually they come with the tow package which comes with the bigger gears. Did you add the mirrors? What is your gear ratio right now? I'm curious what your tow rating is on the 2001 F250 and what is the weight of the trailer?
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:58 PM   #7
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The 5.4 V8 is going to labor pulling a 34' trailer. Just too much for a 330 cubic inch engine. IMO the only thing which could remotely help is changing the gearing and on 4WD that gets expensive.

So I think it comes down to a diesel pickup or a smaller trailer.
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Old 08-15-2011, 03:24 AM   #8
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I use a Chevy crew cab 4X4 dually with a 8.1 liter gas with my 1989 34. It handles it nicely, but we have not been to the Rockies yet. You may have to upgrade to a truck with a bigger engine and pick a gear ratio that matches your proposed usage. Your 1997 34 is a wide body with Coran counter tops and weighs in pretty heavy.
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Old 08-15-2011, 06:58 AM   #9
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Quick question, do you have the "Super Duty" F250 or the F250 built on the f150 chassis, they made both if I recalled correctly.

There's no reason why that truck cannot pull that trailer. I seen newer Cadillac's pull 34' trailers no problems that were setup by CAN-AM Trailer out of Canada.

First, no sway bars? Need to fix that ASAP. If memory is correct, any trailer over about 20'-22' should have sway bars used. Is the hitch setup at the correct pitch and leveling bars (lbs)? If you are going from a pop-up to a 34' the tounge weight is most likely 5-7 times more and adjustments will need to be made.

With gearing, I'd say a set of 3:73 or 4:10 should work fine. Good gas mileage when not towing (friend pulls a 34' fifthwheel with a 3:73, 7.3 diesel, airbags no problem) and should do fine except on the most steep hills and even then it should get you to the top.

Before replacement, getting out, etc... have a place checkout the entire setup, make the need changes and go tow. In the end with a few changes you should do fine.

I pull a 1966 26' Overlander with a 1968 International Travelall, 304, AT 3:52 in the rear and it does fine except for very steep hills or my 1962 Galaxie. Does it pull like my 2002 Excursion? nope? or my 2001 7.3 SD 4x4 3:73, nope.

Had very much the same problem with my Travelall and Galaxie, but have a few changes to the bars, sway and springs, in someways they pull better than the big diesels.
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Old 08-15-2011, 07:09 AM   #10
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Definitely get sway control, proper hitching and possibly consider downsizing the AS to a 27 FB or 28" to feel more spritely.

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Old 08-15-2011, 07:14 AM   #11
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That sort of stands to reason. We tow our 30' with an F150, small V8. There are a few times when it kind of struggles in the mountains, but, then, our rig weighs in at ~4700 lbs, about a gazillion pounds less than yours.

Maybe time to think about a TV more matched to the task.

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Old 08-15-2011, 08:45 AM   #12
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You mentioned a ride problem. Thats all in the hitching. You should be using a weight distrubution hitch with sway control, which will somewhat equal out the weight between the steerin and drive axles and the trailer axles. Although its not a 34 fter(I'm sure I could adjust for it) we use an old REESE DUAL CAM/Straight Line. You are probably using 1000 or 1200 lb bars and there is what is destroying your ride. We use 550 lb bars with flex easier and do not have the rebound characteristics like the heavy bars. I also agree there is an under laying problem with your TV . No matter what gear ratio you have it still should pull that 34 without a problem,except in real hilly terrian or mountians ,Airstreams pull easy.
Good luck
Roger & MaryLou
7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel
1977 27ft OVERLANDER
AIR # 22336 TAC- OH-7
May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
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Old 08-15-2011, 09:48 AM   #13

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As has been mentioned, your most likely having a "hitch" concern.

New trailer...have you weighed the rig yet?

Bouncing uncomfortable ride, proper tongue weight and weight distribution?

IMO...A visit to the CAT scales and using the sway control are in order.

AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 08-15-2011, 04:06 PM   #14
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Again, thank you all; collectively, you are a wealth of information, and you have helped us make another decision!! Thank you so much!

We've determined the Ford's max tow capacity to be 13,000#, and the AS weighs 9800#. We've also determined small engines need smaller tasks, so we can't fault the TV. Humans should know better. Since we are selling the AS, we've put the Ford F250 for sale, too. And who knows? As we go back and forth, there liable to be a used diesel for sale somewhere that fits our budget. Yay !! =)

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