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Old 11-15-2008, 04:51 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
London , Ontario
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 5
Do you need a truck?

I am a TOTAL newbie so please have patience.

We live near Toronto Canada and are preparing for retirement next summer 2009. We are moving to the west coast of BC. We are contemplating trying to do the trip the "Airstream way". We like the look of the trailers and have seen a few. So far the 31 classic seems to be making the most sense for us so we are looking for a used one maybe 1999 ish.

Big question I would like to get clear on is the "appropriate" towing vehicle for an Airstream of this size? I am thinking that a car (ie: Grand Marquis) would probably NOT be a good choice? What is the general consensus on this issue, ie: car vs truck?

Also, is a Hensley Hitch a must have or a should have?

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Old 11-15-2008, 05:19 PM   #2
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1999 34' Limited
Darien , Wisconsin
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 116
I'd go for a truck for a 31 footer, if it was me I'd go for at least a 3/4 ton truck for a unit of that size, we have a 99 34 footer and I can't imagine pulling it with a car. We pull with a F-250 with the diesel engine and it does a great job. Hensley is a fine hitch, but not neccesary, we have a Reese and are very happy with it.

1999 Airstream 34' Limited (The Cottage)

2008 F-350 Diesel
WBCCI # 4106

Steve & Jan
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:10 PM   #3
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New Borockton , Alabama
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I agree. There are not many sedans these days capable of safely towing 7000 lbs but there are a few. Newer pick-ups are actually quite comfortable and the bonus is the additional storage...something Airstreams have always lacked.
Randy 208-514-8950
Converters, Inverters, Monitors, EMS, Zamp Solar
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Old 11-15-2008, 06:19 PM   #4

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , WNY
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Thumbs up Burbit

We use a 3/4 Burb, thats just "our" preference though and you'll get a lot of opinions on this subject.
It's a great traveler, comfortable, capable and most important, the co-pilot loves it.
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 11-15-2008, 06:59 PM   #5
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1973 31' Excella 500
Morristown , Tennessee
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I have a 31' 1973 Excella and pull this with a 2005 GMC Denali with a 6 liter 345 hp engine and towing package. I have a standard load leveling hitch with new axles and tires (Michelin trailer tire). It tows perfectly straight and true withou t any detectable sway, fishtail or other movement. I do believe that balance, overall weight and tongue weight matters.

Just my 2 cents.
Joe DeFelice
1973 Excella 500
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:10 PM   #6
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2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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Well,for what it is worth - here is my story!

I live in Burlington Ont,. and last September, I bought a 2005 Airstream Classic 30' (which is actually 31 ' bumper to ball and differs only in internal layout from your Classic 31')

I towed the trailer home to Burlington with our GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab 4x4 with 4.10 diff.

I had no trouble towing it home power-wise, but then, as you likely know roads are pretty flat between Ohio and Ontario.

I did encounter some sway at 65 mph (as fast as I should be going anyway!) which I had never experienced before with our 27 foot Award trailer even at 75-80mph.

That convinced me to buy the Hensley hitch which I had long been considering anyway.

Given that I intend buying a bigger truck (read on!) I might not have needed the Hensley, but I figured it surely couldn't hurt!

I have only recently installed the Hensley and have not yet driven at interstate speeds with it. Up to 100kph on highway 6, driving to our trailer back and forth to our storage spot, it seems rock solid and I think it will be a real plus in terms of safety/relaxing towing.

For my part, I am now actively shopping for a GMC Sierra 2500HD diesel 4x4 short box, primarily to ensure I have enough grunt, but also to further improve stability

From everything I have read, ( and I read a lot!) the 3/4 ton seems to be considered the ideal match to the size trailer that you and I have. I have a lead on one and may buy it next Monday.

If I cannot negotiate a good deal soon, then I will use our present Sierra 1/2 ton 4x4 to pull the trailer to Arizona this winter (we go every year).

I will then order a new truck next year once I know which companies are still in business!

I think that with the Hensley, our 1/2 ton will be fine for sway, and I will just have to go up those long hills in the SW USA a bit more slowly than I would with the
Duramax Diesel / Allison tranny combination that I crave!

I would certainly not want to pull a 31 ft Airstream with anything less than the
1/2 ton/Hensley combination. Despite what the London Airstream dealer advertises, I for one would never consider a car as a TV for a 31 footer - nor a short wheel based SUV.

I am no expert, but I have been towing for quite a few years!

Before towing our previous 27ft Award with a pickup, we used a Safari 4wd minivan. Power was adequate, but I was always gripping the wheel real tight! I couldn't believe the difference when I moved to thelonger wheel based truck.

No doubt other people's opinions may differ from mine, but i am a firm believer in "having too much truck is better than not enough for safety and relaxed driving."

Hope I don't get flamed too much for stating my opinions - and considered opinions is all they are, believe me!

There is only one word of caution I would offer - not from personal experience but from what I have read on the forums.

Many folks say that a really big tow vehicle or oversized spring bars can transmit too much jolting back to your trailer and cause damage such as popped rivets, frame separation, and cracked frames.

For that reason, I plan to stay away from one ton trucks, even though I could get a good deal on one, and I do not intend to tension my 1000# spring bars very much.

Along the same lines I will go for a Chev/GMC as I hear that their ride is softer than Dodge or Ford.

I am even wondering if it might be a good idea to buy a set of 750# bars for my Hensley instead of the 1000# bars.

I think that with a 3/4 or 1ton truck you hardly need spring bars - except that with a Hensley hitch, you do need them to hold all the hitch components properly in place, although you don't need to apply a lot of tension,

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Brian M.......... Burlington Ontario,

For what it may be worth, if I can help at all, please email me!

Brian M
burlington Ont.
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Old 11-15-2008, 07:24 PM   #7
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2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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As a PS to my last post, just in case you have never owned a truck before, our 1/2 ton Sierra was the first truck we had ever owned - absolutely love it! We use it as our daily driver

Space is great, comfort of the GMC is car-like, has all the conveniences, and my "Mrs" who at first was not no sure about trucks and is about 5'-0", now loves it for the high riding position, great visibility (and probably the bully aspect if truth be told!)

Sure, it costs a bit more in fuel, but we may be the last generation to enjoy it, so fill yer boots!

Great for helping out the neighbours with moving jobs too!

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Old 11-15-2008, 08:10 PM   #8
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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You need to go to Can-Am RV

in your city and speak to Andy Thompson. He'll set you up. He's a member here, so send him a private message to get things going. His profile is here:

Welcome and good luck with your search!
Cameron & the Labradors
Kai & Samm
North Vancouver, BC
AIR #11529
Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - Mame Dennis
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:13 PM   #9
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1975 27' Overlander
High River , Alberta
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If you haven't already, you should head down Highway 4 to Can Am RV and test drive the combinations they have available. That way you can make up your own mind as to whether they work or not.

(On edit: Cameron beat me to it!)
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Old 11-15-2008, 08:50 PM   #10
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2005 30' Classic
Burlington , Ontario
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I'd be wary - I known what they promote, and I've been there! this kid ain't buying it!

Different strokes for different folks I suppose, it "might" work, but I wouldn't RISK jeopardize my safety and more importantly, that of my wife.

IMHO when towing, there is no substitute for lots of power, a long wheelbase for stability, and HEAVY DUTY BRAKES! You get all that with a 3/4ton truck - you can just relax and enjoy the ride!

You pays your money and you takes your choice! No disrespect intended to folks who believe that towing an 8700# GVW pound trailer with a car is a good idea.

Just my $0.02 .............................. Brian
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Old 11-15-2008, 09:47 PM   #11
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1967 26' Overlander
Upperco , Maryland
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It's possible to pull a '31 Airstream with any number of vehicles. To tow the trailer comfortably depends on a number of factors.

To make a very broad and general statement, I think the "median" break point between a 1/2 ton truck and a 3/4 ton truck is something about 25' and a 5,000 pound dry weight. Sure, you'll find people comfortable pulling a 31' trailer with a 1/2 ton truck and you'll find other insisting you should use a 3/4' ton to pull a Bambi. For the most part, however, I think the further you go beyond '25, the more folks will recommend a 3/4 ton truck.
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Old 11-15-2008, 10:47 PM   #12
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1997 34' Limited
Oyster Bed Bridge , Prince Edward Island
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go and see CAN AM RV in London Ont They are the airstream towing specialists.. you will get a thousand different opinions on this subject on this forum. We tow a 34ft limited with a dodge magnum station wagon and get the best mileage and is nice upon reaching your destination to drive around in the car rather than a big noisy diesel truck. (in my opinion)

Check out my pics and see

Good luck!
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Old 11-16-2008, 03:51 AM   #13
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2007 28' International CCD
Windermere , Florida
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 457
"We tow a 34ft limited with a dodge magnum station wagon and get the best mileage and performance....."

There are plenty of barely adequate combinations. Always think worst case scenario. Curving downhill emergency stop in the rain. Choose your TV wisely.

2007 28' Int CCD.
2011 F 250 Big Honking Diesel
DTV 5lnb on a tripod.
Wilson wired repeater with YAG.
Two big screens
15dB Backfire WiFi antenna and WaveMagnum
Hawkshead Tire Monitors.
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Old 11-16-2008, 08:30 AM   #14
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1992 34' Limited
Grand Island , Nebraska
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 248
In my 25 years of towing I've always had pickups. I would never consider towing a large trailer with an automobile. A half-ton would do OK with a 31' but might be marginal in some circumstances (mountains, braking, etc.). I agree with the opinions about the 3/4 ton being the best. Gas or diesel is up to you, but if you go with a gasser opt for a larger engine. Also, have an auxiliary transmission cooler from the beginning.

I do fine with a standard load leveling hitch. There is an art to getting it set up correctly at first, but persevere and you'll have no sway problems.

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'92 Limited 34ft (now sold); '96 Dodge Cummins 4X2, 5speed
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