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Old 04-02-2006, 06:12 PM   #29
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I guess I'm of the viewpoint that you always get the right tool for the job. If you can't afford the tool, you get what you can afford that will meet the basic need, and still maintain a level of safety (be it a shorter coach, less cargo, etc). For the price of a Durango, one could easily get a used Suburban (2003 or 2004-- seen them for starting for about $25k, not a lot of miles either- longer wheelbase for the longer coaches), even with a 5.3L and be better off, however, the cost difference between a 1500 burb and a 2500 burb (or pickup), is not even worth the conversation and you get more TV for the 2500. Now if this is going to be a daily driver, I'll tell ya, I was filling up the beast and another burb pulled in. We joked about how this was our favorite time of week, spending $80+ to fill our monsters.

I personally think the Trailblazer EXT (or whatever the extended model is), is a great tow vehicle and a fair daily driver too. Longer wheelbase (for 25' and longer), also body on full frame and has the HP as well.

I think a 20% factor of reserve is very possible. I know I am doing it and I know others are too.

I think saying I can't afford a longer wheelbase and that horsepower is king is a bit dangerous, but as has been pointed out, it's all about choices.
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Old 04-02-2006, 08:31 PM   #30
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underpowered Chevy Tahoe

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvercamper
Hi Friends
Our tired and underpowered Chevy Tahoe is now one year closer to the end of the lease and we have to think of another TV to lead our 28 ft. Safari. Your opinions and ideas will be very helpful. Thank you
Sharon & Winston
I tow a 25' Excella with a Yukon XL 8.1 Liter gas and am very pleased with its towing ability. Gas mileage is not great, got 10.0 mpg on a recent 1200 mile trip through NM & AZ.
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Old 04-02-2006, 09:47 PM   #31
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Hi Silvercampers--Your question has started quite a debate. You mentioned "tired underpowered Chevy Tahoe one year closer to end of lease", which I interpret as about 2004 5.3L 3.42 rear. Not exactly a premo tow for a 28' Safari. Happiness would be a Chevy Suburban 3/4 ton 6.0L 4.10 rear. I'll bet the dealer that leased you the Tahoe would cut you a great deal on a 2006 Burb equipped as noted, and if he didn't have it in stock, he could find it. You're already dissatisfied with the Tahoe, so why consider another vehicle you'll be dissatisfied with, because it will be a marginal tow. The Suburban won't cost much, if any more, and it will do the job. Don't make a decision on over all fuel mileage, as the differential among any of your choices will be very small on an annual basis. The biggest cost of any new, or newer vehicle is deprecation, not fuel savings. Good luck on your choice.--Frank S
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Old 04-02-2006, 10:44 PM   #32
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Scary Scarey story!

I stayed overnight at Safford RV while picking up my new Airstream. At about midnight I woke up for some reason and decided to go to my Suburban. There in the parking lot was a couple - who I first thought might be trying to nab a trailer.

It turned out that they were bringing their trailer in to have it looked at. They had been towing about a 25 ft SOB with an older Chevy Van (1500?) The trailer had broken loose, gone into a ditch and fortunately come to a stop in the upright position. That night they told me that the hooks on the safety chains had been pulled straight (apparently it jumped off the ball).

The next day when they came back and I got a look at everything in the daylight, OHMYGOD! They had two adults and four kids in the van and both the van and trailer were loaded to the gills. The hitch ball was installed into the trailer's bumper as were two holes where the chains used to attach. (What is that - a Class 1 hitch?) This van could have been around since the 70's. The ball was completely covered with rust! They had been towing for "several years" and were planning on going "all over the place". Needless to say the frame on the stick and staple trailer was bent and the roadside wall was wavy. Considering how it must have bucked as it was burying it's tongue, it looked better than it should have.

I talked to the man quite a bit and he clearly didn't know SQUAT about safe towing, tongue weight, etc. He did come back to take a peek at my unit while I was hitching up, and I did suggest that greasing the ball was something that might prevent premature wear on the ball lock, resulting in the ball popping loose. He never asked about the Reese dual cam, the very hefty ball assembly, etc.

I'm sure they'll total his trailer, and he'll probably buy a new one and proceed on as ignorantly as he did before. The moral.... at least folks here are ASKING and THINKING. This clown could have lost his children in an accident and I know he won't change a thing!

Paula Ford
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:41 PM   #33
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#1 of 4: Absolute and without controversy

We are talking some high-end tow vehicles in this thread (whether the Durango, Armada, Titan, or 3/4-ton truck/Suburban combos). New 28-foot Safaris are both pricey and heavier than similar Airstreams of 20 years ago. I would hope the casual reader could gain useful info here for making that $40,000+ tow vehicle (TV) purchase decision. Nobody says the recommendations will be unanimous and there's already been a lot of smoke! Well, devils go where angels fear to tread....

I will address principally tow vehicles. Pardon me if I intermingle load capacity and payload capacity; ditto for hitch weight and tongue weight -- please look on these as relatively equivalent terms.

Read the Airstream FAQs on tongue weight. Then scroll down to Weight Rating too. Read and understand both areas. Also read for comprehension your (or any prospective) tow vehicle manual's towing section

Similar to the Airstream FAQs and summed up well at hitchesonline.com, "GROSS TRAILER WEIGHT and TONGUE WEIGHT are two of the most important items to consider. THESE WEIGHTS MUST NEVER EXCEED THE LOWEST RATING OF ANY PART OF YOUR TOWING SYSTEM. GROSS TRAILER WEIGHT is the weight of the trailer plus all cargo. Measure GROSS TRAILER WEIGHT by putting the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. TONGUE WEIGHT is the downward force exerted on the ball by the trailer coupler." (their emphasis)

The statement "THESE WEIGHTS MUST NEVER EXCEED THE LOWEST RATING OF ANY PART OF YOUR TOWING SYSTEM" most commonly meets the toughest requirement when you try to stay within tow vehicle Payload Capacity. For this very reason claims for TV tow capacity become somewhat secondary and over-inflated.

Driver & passengers aboard the TV count against the TV Payload Capacity. Optional equipment on the TV and any TV cargo weight count against the TV Payload Capacity. Tongue Weight or Hitch Weight count against the TV Payload Capacity. Your TV hitch receiver and hitch bar weights may need to be included if not factored into the TV base model specifications as equipped by the factory. Add up all sources of weight added to the TV; they MUST not exceed the TV Payload Capacity. Read your TV manual -- it says so right there!

Published hitch weights (for vintage, from your trailer manual, or the new Safari specifications) are for empty trailers only. To get closer to actual hitch weight you must add input of weight distribution gear, loaded LP tanks, and some low number for trailer cargo. In most applications for the longer trailer lengths being discussed, these not-so-optional inputs add at least 200# to hitch weight. Nothing beats actually weighing your hitch jack when your trailer is fully equipped and ready to go adventuring (see diagram on how to weigh in your Airstream manual or at hitchesonline.com link above).

Now .... more absolute and without controversy:
Wheelbase: Durango = 119", Armada = 123", Titan = 139", Suburban 130" (for reference)
GVWR = Curb weight + Payload Capacity
Trailer Hitch Weight = Base hitch weight + LP (60 pounds?) + Weight Distribution gear weight + your cargo and trailer options inputs as split between axles & hitch. Guesses count for something but actual weighing is easy and simple!
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:43 PM   #34
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#2 of 4: Dodge Durango

These are the specs from Dodge's website. I point out that the payload capacity numbers are higher than for the Nissan Titan or Armada. But do you think that a family of 4 would be well advised to use a larger TV for a 28-footer? I sure do.
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:47 PM   #35
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#3 of 4: The Nissan Titan/Armada duo

I was a Nissan Titan LE owner from December 2004 until January 2006. The Titan load capacity numbers didn't add up for towing our new 25' Safari (already 1000# heavier than vintage of similar length) plus optional gear I wanted onboard the TV. "Optional" meaning I wanted more than Titan's allowed 300-400 pounds; i.e, passengers, our dogs, a truck cap, bicycles, genset and tools onboard. You can modestly increase the payload capacity with the lower trim level Titans and going with a 2WD. I would venture that one would have to try pretty darned hard to find a 4x2 Titan, though it's not out of the question. The sub-9000# tow numbers listed on the webpage (ranging from 6500-7200#) are a bit of wink-wink nudge-nudge if you ask me. We truly need to be talking about a Titan equipped with the Tow Package (Class III/IV receiver & lower gearing in tow mode).

Power train issues with the Titan are not in question. There's a lot of kick in that engine and 5-speed auto transmission. Gearing & rear differential ratios are unique to a 5-speed and not easily compared to a 4-speed or the normal rear end 3.73 or 4.10 numbers. IMHO the gearing is already tuned to the large wheels on the Titan and these don't confer any specific added towing ability. 9000+ pound tow capacity games are not unique to Nissan (see the F-150...). But a real-world 9000# trailer would have a hitch weight of at least 1100-1200#. Subtract that out of the load capacity and I dare you to get more than 2 lightweight people into the tow vehicle. No-o-o. I double-dog dare you!

Looking at any number of websites for different manufacturers & models, alarms go off when I see how the Armada web page doesn't list payload capacity. I would ask Armada owners participating on this thread to go to their manual and report if it is any better than for the Titan. I am finding no numbers on edmunds or kelley blue book websites either -- not even for the Armada's GVWR! I looked at consumerreports.org and found a payload of "1375 pounds" but it doesn't specify SE, LE, 2WD or 4WD.

The usual pattern is that SUV versions weigh more than the truck they are based on (distant recall tells me this probably bears true for the Toyota Sequoia/Tundra numbers). You see that in the numbers that follow, therefore I find it hard to believe that payload capacity is an improvement on the Titan. The Titan numbers below are pretty much what my 2004 Titan's manual had.

Armada Curb Weights
SE 4x2 5251#
SE 4x4 5541#
LE 4x2 5340#
LE 4x4 5623#

Titan King Cab Curb Weights (Crew Cab in parentheses)
XE 4x2 4835# (5073#)
XE 4x4 4893# (5134#)
SE 4x2 4905# (5143#)
SE 4x4 4958# (5199#)
LE 4x2 5036# (5262#)
LE 4x4 5097# (5323#)

Titan King Cab, Maximum payload (Crew Cab in parentheses)
XE 4x2 1587# (1529#)
XE 4x4 1448# (1387#)
SE 4x2 1517# (1464#)
SE 4x4 1378# (1322#)
LE 4x2 1386# (1325#)
LE 4x4 1259# (1198#)

This whole thread started by asking about a 28' Safari. 2006 Safari specs says the empty 28' base model without the LS package (spare tire y'all....) hitch weight is 830#. Real world numbers with LP in the tanks, WD gear, and minimal personal cargo would be ... can we agree on at least 1000 pounds?

Now, you tell me -- just how useful is a tow vehicle with such low overhead for TV payload?

If somebody gives credit to just the power train and feel of pulling the load (just fine in my experience!), I believe the math dictates that a small family would use a Titan or Armada in an overloaded condition while towing a newer 28' Airstream. I wish them deep pockets, good luck and good health.

The following is from www.nissanusa.com:
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:52 PM   #36
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#4 of 4: A bit of opinion

A Hensley is a premium anti-sway apparatus. I have never read anything about it producing weight distribution results that are any different from other weight distribution. I seem to recall it weighs around 200#, most of which will add to hitch weight. It does not provide a safety margin for an overloaded tow vehicle.

I have read direct statements that supplemental airbag does nothing to enhance margin of safety or truly increase load capacity (I'm not familiar if this is an actual option offered on Armada). (don't quote me though!) Yes, an airbag can keep an overloaded suspension from bottoming out. But all you've done is modify one part of the complex geometry that engineers designed to produce the final numbers on your load capacity.

So is Rich Luhr driving an Armada pulling a 30-footer? His website does not list Nissan as a sponsor so I can't speculate further. Carrying a number of people aboard, I would bet you dollars to donuts that he is well over an Armada's load capacity. Safety should be the biggest issue that we broadcast to members and lurkers. Sure, a Titan or Armada will "tow in the mountains" but do you want to accept early loss of control when that "other driver" forces you into an emergency maneuver?

What about accelerated wear of suspension and load bearing parts? Can every reader afford "disposable" tow vehicles? Could Rich be accepting that his TV will be worn out after 2 years or less given the miles he's driving? Can you say "business write-off"? I will only say that I am jealous and that Rich is having wa-a-a-ay too much fun! But how about speculating on whether his next TV is an Armada or something beefier?

Let's be careful out there! These discussions cover minimum Airstream-Tow Vehicle investments of $100,000. It sure is worth the attention to get it right in my opinion.
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Old 04-02-2006, 11:54 PM   #37
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Great posts Bob. Very objective and great personal, honest feedback having towed with one. I can't agree more and have never been able to say it as well.
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Old 04-03-2006, 12:13 AM   #38
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canoe stream.....

the gvwr for the armada is 7000lbs the payload is 1695lbs...

the gcwr is 14800 or so.......

i've already listed the durango specs.....

the trailer in question is with the limits for both the dodge and nissan.....

like rich luhr these folks may want a t.v. from a company still doing business in 2 years.......in the u.s.

safety is important but to hide brand waving under the safety flag isn't useful.

we've heard from members using both the durango and the armada......safely and happily.....

it's embarrassing to see their experience discounted....

thankfully they are thinking people.....thinking......

and april 1 has passed......

2air'
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:40 AM   #39
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Clarifications:

I have a bit of hindsight on my posts and need to amplify a few points.

1. My post "#1 of 4", paragraphs 4 and 5: Regarding the hitchesonline.com quote "These weights must never exceed the lowest rating of any part of your towing system," in paragraph 5 I said that TV payload capacity is usually the first limit approached. I stated this usually occurs before you approach the TV's towing capacity. I should have included GCWR as another limit that you will rarely approach with common loads. Do not ignore towing capacity and GCWR to concentrate on TV payload capacity, but please do make a mental check-off on all three.

2. I made the decision to let the Titan go based on my intended use for the 2006 25' Safari. I have offered other Titan ownership insights here. Using the Durango or Armada/Titan for 25' Airstreams is not being discussed in this thread. A weekending lightly loaded couple might find ways to use the Nissan products that way. All readers should understand the individual and potentially erroneous nature of any post on Airstream Forums. You must make your own best judgement.

3. My post "#3 of 4": Would any Armada owner please post the Payload Capacity for the different trim levels from their owner's manual? Thank you.

4. My post "#4 of 4": I got to wondering if Rich Luhr having an Armada (as has been suggested) dates to his days of the Vintage Thunder 24' Argosy restoration. I have nothing but good to say about Rich and other longstanding Forums members he has worked with. It is too bad we see fewer of his posts here (busy on the road and with Airstream Life; also Forums restraints on commercial vendors).

Now ... I'll breathe deeply and get on with life.
With aloha, Bob
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Old 04-03-2006, 11:51 AM   #40
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<Moderator hat on>

I have deleted a couple of messages in this thread as unnecessary and off-topic. These Forums are about sharing empirical information regarding our experiences and the experience of others regarding a variety of subjects. Just because someone is successful at an endeavor doesn't mean that it's appropriate; nor does a lack of percieved appropriateness make it necessarily wrong.

Please feel free to continue the discussion, but do it in such a way as to bring empirical evidence to it rather than trying to make judgement calls on the "rightness" or "wrongness" of using a specific item for a specific task.

Name calling, in whatever fashion it's done (through quotations or smileys or whatever) will not be tolerated.

<Moderator Hat off>

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Old 04-03-2006, 01:39 PM   #41
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a few things...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
the cost difference between a 1500 burb and a 2500 burb (or pickup), is not even worth the conversation and you get more TV for the 2500.
If that's the case with Chevy, or whomever's vehicles, then yeah, sure. But it ain't or wasn't with my truck. the 3/4 ton version was FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS more. to me, that's a "" of a difference. TEN if you wanted the deisel. Thats worth mentioning, to me. but maybe not for you airstream millionaires.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I personally think the Trailblazer EXT (or whatever the extended model is), is a great tow vehicle and a fair daily driver too. Longer wheelbase (for 25' and longer), also body on full frame and has the HP as well.
Ok, now I'm convinced that you are an agent for General Motors. dissin' 9000lb-rated vehicles from other companies, in favor of a 6500-lb-rated vehicle from Chevy??????

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I think a 20% factor of reserve is very possible. I know I am doing it and I know others are too.
. Sure it is....with a 3/4 ton. anything less is relegated to vintage...single-axle vintage, at that.
I honestly don't believe you'll find many people who would look at my setup, and think it was unsafe. but it will not meet you're 80% rule.


Paula: I think Ron White said it best: "you can't fix stupid". and here WE are, arguing about how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin. At least we are all "aware" of the issues.

Canoe: If I understand correctly, (and maybe I don't) 1000lbs of tongue weight isn't 1000lbs of payload, IF you're using a weight distributing hitch. With that in mind, its not hard to stay in spec.
Rich bought the Armada when they upgraded to the 30' classic. "Vintage Thunder" was towed with his Honda Pilot. They've taken the nissan/30' combination across the country and back, without issue, as far as I know. at least, none has been reported in the blog. As far as I can tell, they're very happy with it.
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Old 04-07-2006, 07:39 PM   #42
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Hi Friends

We have come to expect a lot from you Guys but we think that you may have outdone yourselves on this occasion. Your responses have been quite lively and informative and we thank you all.

There will be another T/V as soon as possible but in two weeks we leave for Maryland and there are a few more trips being planned for the summer. This Tahoe will just have to do for now, wish us luck and say a prayer for us.

Sharon and Winston
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