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Old 05-01-2004, 09:51 AM   #1
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Ford F-150 As a Tow Vehicle

Greetings from central Ohio!

After a tour of the Airstream factory last week, I am actively scheming a way to purchase a new AS. I will be hampered by the college money siphon in my life but that should be resolved relatively soon. (She is ending her junior year.)

I have a Ford F-150 that was purchased PAB (pre Airstream bug). Bottom line, I would appreciate advice on which models to consider based upon the towing capacity of my existing vehicle. We liked the look and feel of the 19' Bambi put are a little concerned over the width of the sleeping area. The 22' seems OK and the 25' great but maybe a little too large for first time RV owners.

Specs - 2004 Ford F-150, 4X4, Extended Cab, 144in wheel base, 5.4 L V8, 3.73 gear ratio, 7200#GVWR package, trailer tow package and several nice cup holders.

Any advice given as to the size and weight of the unit to consider will assist us in determining which models to select from. I feel more comfortable requesting information from this forum than relying on what a sales person tells me.

Any comments on Ohio dealers?

Corky
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Old 05-01-2004, 10:12 AM   #2
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First, I found Paul Sherry RV pretty good. I'm sure there are better, but there are far more worse dealers out there. Sherry did take care of us and the price was about $1200 less than the other two dealers I worked with.

As for what you can tow with that F-150, it seems to have a bunch of what it takes....the 5.4L w/ the 3.73s is a good combo to have to start with.

It would be eaiser if you could give us a clue which you really want to look at so that folks don't just post a list of trailers you can or shouldn't. My gut tells me 25' or less most models (Safari, CCD, Classic)...possibly as large as a 28' depending on model.
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Old 05-01-2004, 10:52 AM   #3
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No larger than 25' no less than 19'. I am hoping I am OK. It seems like it but there's always something you don't know.

Corky
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Old 05-01-2004, 11:14 AM   #4
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Here are the listed GVWRs of the following coaches:

19" Safari/CCD No problems that I can see- piece of cake (4600lb GVWR)

22" Safari/CCD No problems that I can see- piece of cake (5600lb GVWR)

25" Safari/CCD No problems that I can see- getting heavy but I think well within your 150's ability, towing through the Rocky Mountains...difficult, but not impossible with your current setup (6300lb GVWR)

28" Safari/CCD Not recommended without significant truck mods (7300lb GVWR)

25" Classic Not recommended without significant truck mods (7300lb GVWR)

Keep in mind that my positive comments are based on you having the correct tires on your truck that can handle the hitch weights (distributed or not), you purchase a good brake controller and a hitch the right size and specs to handle the job.

Hope this helps.

Eric
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Old 05-01-2004, 11:41 AM   #5
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Check the tow rating in the owner's manual. I'm betting that it'll handle a 25 footer ok. the new 150's are supposed to have really good tow capacities. also check the gcwr (probably stamped on the door jamb). total loaded weight of the truck (loaded..passengers + stuff) + loaded trailer shouldn't exceed this number.

Airstream has the weights of all its trailers listed on its website.
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Old 05-01-2004, 12:11 PM   #6
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Your truck has to do two things.

It has to PULL it's own weight, that of its contents (fuel, people, cargo), the weight of the hitch, and the wet and loaded weight of the trailer. This is primarily influenced by engine size, axle ratio, tire diameter, and drivetrain strength. The maximum the total weight of truck and trailer should be is the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). It is not on the door jamb, but in your Owners Manual.

It also has to CARRY it's own weigh, that of its contents, the weight of the hitch, and the tongue weight of the wet and loaded trailer. This is primarily influenced by the strength of the frame, springs, and axles, and maximum load capacity of the tires. The maximum weight that should be on both axles is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). This should be on a sticker on your door or door jamb, which also specifies Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR), for each individual axle.

The first thing you need to do is fuel your vehicle up, load it with all the people and cargo that will be in it while towing, and take it to a certified scale, such as a CAT scale. Put the front and rear axles on the respective steer and drive axle scale pads. The trailer axle pad is behind these and will be unused (until you come back with the trailer). Hit the button to page the scale operator. You'll need a broom stick, etc to reach the button while sitting where you'll be towing. When the operator asks for your ICC number, just tell 'em "private vehicle." When the operator tells you they have the weight, pull of the scale, and go inside and get your weight ticket.

Subtract your truck's actual weight from the GCWR, and that's how much hitch and wet and loaded trailer weight you can PULL. This is a good number for towing in the flatlands. To have a good reserve for pulling in the mountains, subtract the truck's actual weight from 80% of the GCWR, and that's how much hitch and wet and loaded trailer you can easily pull in the mountains.

Subtract your truck's actual weight from the GVWR, and that's how much hitch and wet and loaded tongue weight you can CARRY. You want the tongue weight to be at least 10% of the total wet and loaded trailer weight.

Make sure that the hitch and wet and loaded tongue weight, which will be primarily carried by the truck rear axle, will not cause that axle to exceed its GAWR.

Once you know this real capability of your truck, start looking at trailer GVWR, the maximum the trailer can weigh (including tongue weight), wet (with water, propane and batteries) and loaded (all your stuff).

If you are doing okay on truck GCWR, but running out of truck GVWR, keep in mind that if you move cargo from the truck bed to the trailer, the truck only has to carry about 10% of that cargo weight. Of course that has to come out of the trailer GVWR rather than the truck GVWR.

I won't get into wheelbase, because your 144" is more than enough for a 25-26' trailer.

This is the only way to know for sure what YOUR truck, with YOUR options, YOUR family and YOUR stuff, is capable of handling.
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Old 05-01-2004, 12:40 PM   #7
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Nice Recap Maurice!

Thanks Maurice , for recapping the weighing procedure again. All newbies should print it up and keep with the trailer. It is so beneficial for everyone to review this important issue. Before your help, I was imtimidated by CAT scales but now I have four yellow weigh slips. I like to keep an eye on the weight.

There are many opinions on what is the best "reserve" of GCVWR. I have seen 75%-90%. Are you recommending 80%? I am at 90%.
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Old 05-01-2004, 01:19 PM   #8
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Although the ideal stated by experienced RVer's is 80%, I will also be at 90% (18,000 out of 20,000) when fully loaded. We've had to completely stop for a vehicle turning left at the bottom of a fairly steep hill and had no problem accelerating up it, but the trailer only had about 700-800 lbs in it, so we were at about 85%.

I really like the concept of the weight of the tow vehicle axles being equal to, or higher than, the weight on the trailer axles.
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Old 05-01-2004, 01:36 PM   #9
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Tow weights

3 weeks ago we were out and I had a chance to weigh our 1995 Soverign, 21 foot (book weight 3,900 lb) and 2002 F150. Here is the info:
2002 F150 3.55 axel ratio, 17" wheels, 4 wheel drive, large V8 gas
GVWR 6,500 lbs
GCWR 12,500

Our actual weights with gas tank full, 20 30 lb propane tanks 78% full, 50 gallons water and trailer loaded (we pack a lot of stuff)
Truck front axel 2,900 lb
Truck rear axel 3,010 LB
Trailer both axels 4,820 lb
Total weight 10,730 lb this is 86% of our GCWR.

We are considering a canopy for the truck and small generator. We did not buy this truck with a trailer in mind and could have gained another 1,000 lbs GCWR with 16" wheels and different rear end ratio
Phil
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Old 05-01-2004, 08:29 PM   #10
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Corky,

I suggest you figure out how you will use the trailer, once you have it. That is, is it just a place to sleep and keep your drinks cold, or do you want to sit inside and relax, watch tv, etc. Do you have hobbies that you bring with you while camping? If so, what requirements do they have for space, power, seating? How about children? Where will they sleep?

Now picture yourself in each of the various sizes and layouts and imagine spending an evening, or two, or three. Now consider three solid days of rain, and how that will work. Think about the bath, and how it will be used; the 22' all have wet baths, for example.

Once you understand that, you will understand what you really want. These things are big money, and you will not want to be running one of those "used twice" ads. For us, it had to be a 25'. Actual experience has born out the wisdom of that choice. But that is just us. Others have found the 22', 19', or even 16' to be just right for them. Still others bought a 34' slide out only because there was nothing larger! It really depends upon how they are used.

You are fortunate in that your F150 has substantial towing capacity, giving you a wide range of choice. It appears that you are RATED to tow something close to 9,000 lb. after typical loading in your truck (combined gross weight limit of 15,000 lbs). As a practical matter, I would think your limiting factor will be the tugging power of the 5.4. I freely admit I am speculating here, but I suspect you will find it running out of steam in, say, the Appalachians, or the Rockies pulling anything much over 6500 lbs. (actual weight) or so. However, 300 hp. and 365 ft/lbs of torque is not to be sneezed at and it might do great with even higher loads.

Good luck to you,

Mark
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Old 05-01-2004, 10:02 PM   #11
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Mark,

Your post did stop and make me think. (Kudos to you for that, my wife says it is almost impossible to do!)

We spend long weekends at a shooting club (schuetzen) in northern Indiana about five times a year plus camping over a weekend two or three times a year visiting my daughter at school. We would like to travel out west for extended vacations but that is down the road (no pun intended.)

The "mountains" in Ohio and Indiana are pretty much limited to freeway overpasses and a few hills in what we laughingly call ski country. So most of my towing will be in the flat lands until I have the time to try a longer vacation. Nothing in the forseeable future maybe in five years. Which could mean a different tow vehicle.

We now spend time in a VW camper. It is OK for the shorter stays, two nights, but some of the events require five night stays. We have access to restrooms but no showers and the club just put in water to all the camp sites this year. So the shower idea is quite appealing. I take it a wet bath is not as desirable as a seperate shower?

The 25' is sounding better all the time but it may be pressing the limits for the F 150 and my limited towing experience. That should be very limited towing experience. About four years of towing a motorcycle trailer with a BMW 2002. Short wheelbases all around , a real joy to try to back up.

Corky
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Old 05-01-2004, 10:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cstar
The 25' is sounding better all the time but it may be pressing the limits for the F 150 and my limited towing experience. That should be very limited towing experience. About four years of towing a motorcycle trailer with a BMW 2002. Short wheelbases all around , a real joy to try to back up.

Corky
Don't worry about the towing. There is a steep learning curve, no matter what your choice. But it comes very quickly, and is largely a matter of getting used to that particular trailer, whatever the size. You will find a dual axle trailer easier to tow and back than a short, single axle. In fact, you will be amazed.

Wet baths are not so much desirable or not desirable, as different. The entire bath area IS the shower stall, and so everything gets wet (hence the term). You gain space for other uses, but at the expense of some inconvenience. Some people hate them, some live with it, and some find them no problem at all.

I'd be in the "hate" category.

If my information on the towing capacity of your truck is correct (and don't for a MINUTE assume it is - check it out yourself), you have a lot of capacity for any of Airstream's 25' models.

Mark
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Old 05-01-2004, 11:00 PM   #13
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I checked the Ford Fleet site and Mark's information was correct.

The "marketed" towing capacity of that particular truck is 9300 lbs out of a GCWR of 15,000 lbs. So Ford is assuming the truck, fuel, and driver weighs 5700 lbs.

This jives with the "marketed" payload capacity of 1650 lbs out of a GVWR of 7200 lbs, putting their estimate of the truck weight at 5550 lbs. They're working with 150 lbs for the driver, which is part of the payload, to bring that weight up to 5700 lbs for the towing capacity.

Depending on how you would load a 25' Safari to 6300 lbs, it's tongue weight could wind up much more than 10%, as much as 800-900 lbs. Working with the higher number, you would then not want the truck, fueled, with hitch, and loaded with people and cargo, to exceed 6300-6400 lbs to hit 7200 lbs GVW with a 800-900 lb tongue weight.

A 6300 lb truck plus 6300 lb trailer would give a Gross Combined Weight of 12,600 lbs, or 84% of 15,000 lbs. Not bad.

Ford's estimates of truck weight used for the marketing capacities are generally on a no-option truck. Luxuries add weight.

The only way to know what you have to work with is to hit the scales.

It's been my experience that the larger a trailer is, the easier it is to manuver and back. It's much easier to put our 34' triple axle Airstream where I want it than our 15' Boston Whaler, which requires a much lighter touch on the wheel. A 25' is a VERY nice compromise that will fit in almost all state park sites.

The 25' twin and queen bed center-bath floorplans have been around a long time and have been very popular. My only concern is that the twins have a wall at the foot of each bed, which can be a problem with taller folks. The sideways mounted queen, although slightly shorter, allows feet to hang off the bed if necessary. They don't have a dinette, but the large fold-out table can serve that purpose. They do have decent storage in the kitchen with the large pull-out pantry.

The accordian door on the narrow shower entrance makes it a bit tough for really fat guys like me to get in and out, but normal folks fit fine, and the accordian door can be replaced with a curtain for a little more room. I like the side bath. Unlike the rear corner bath, it allows someone from the front or bedroom to use the bathroom while retaining privacy or quiet in the other end, not to mention allows a queen bed instead of just a double, and a much larger black water tank.

The couch across the front of the trailer gives an appearance of depth looking back through the trailer, eliminating any claustrophobic feeling. The credenza is a perfect place for a TV. It would be nice if you could get the fold-up writing table of the Classics in the Safari. It makes a perfect notebook computer table.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I believe you'd be able to pull a 25' Safari with your truck, but I'd want to see the actual weight before finally committing.
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Old 05-02-2004, 02:37 AM   #14
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Corky,

My old trailer was a 25' Safari "B" with queen bed. It is a great size as you can get in almost anywhere but not too small in livability. The bath was small but compared to the 19', it's massive. I would recommend it highly over the smaller sizes.

Your F-150 would be a good fit, IMHO. I wouldn't hesitate to pull a 25' Safari with a 15000# GCVWR truck. I bet Maurice's calculations will prove it.

And everyone was a newbie at one time. As was said, the learning curve is steep in towing. Just relax and GO SLOW! You will feel like a pro in no time.
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