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Old 08-24-2008, 11:15 AM   #15
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Ml 320 Diesel

I've got an ML320 (diesel), unibody construction, and wondering if a 20' Silver Cloud is reasonable to tow? The engine is ready ever so slightly higher in HP and Torque. However with a chip upgrade I think I will have a 250 hp and close to 500 ft. lbs. of torque. Also the Mercedes has a Trailer Assist System. It works with the sensors and brakes to automatically adjust for swaying.

So what do you think about using an ML diesel for towing? And how different is 20' (new) versus 23-25' (new)? Are those subtle changes good enough to be acceptable for the 4-5 camping trips a year (100-500 miles)?
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Old 08-24-2008, 11:37 AM   #16
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Howdy Red Dirt,

Welcome to the Forums! You'll find plenty of great advice here, and matching tow vehicles to trailers is one of the single biggest decisions when starting out.

Experienced folks will tell you the ML 320's 114 inch wheelbase is a limiting factor. Shorter wheelbase medium-sized SUVs can be decent tow vehicles, but a higher quality anti-sway system like the Equalizer or dual cam is a must, even with the Merc's computerized sway control system. Most folks would also advise to stick with the 20 ft or shorter trailer - size and weight are a better match for the ML. The subtle changes you mention, while useful, would not make up for basic size and weight considerations. We have a similar sized and tow-rated TV, but the 4000 lb 22 foot trailer is as big as we'd go with our smaller truck.

Most people here would say the 23-25 ft trailers would be too heavy and too long for this tow vehicle. The ML certainly has enough power and torque, but keeping the trailer under control, even on a few shorter trips a year, is top priority.

Best of luck.

John W
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:13 PM   #17
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We are thinking of the 20' Silver Cloud. Based on your response, in general 20' or less is acceptable for a Mercedes ML, as I read it. Granted that's a general statement as some trailers are heavier than others. But the AS 20' Silver Cloud doesn't seem unreasonably heavy.

At the moment the larger trailers, 23 - 25' that you mentioned, are interesting, but we don't think we'd want to step up to that level and commitment with a vehicle. And when we do decide on a bigger vehicle, we'll consider a littler larger trailer than that.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:32 PM   #18
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Welcome from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

I think that you are on the right track with staying 20' or under with the ML as a TV. Even then, I would go with an Equalizer or Hensley hitch.

The 20' will go loaded for the road at about 5000#; 25' would go about 7500#. The latter would be really pushing the limits of the ML.

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Old 08-24-2008, 07:52 PM   #19
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That's great info - thanks! I'm not interested in anything greater than 20' so that's great to hear.

I've done a fair amount of towing heavy equipment in the past so I'm familiar with the issues. But we never stopped to do calculations or assess it much more than slowing down if we felt under powered or the breaks were too weak.

I've figure out the search feature and been doing a little research. Sounds like there is a bit of a battle about these "new" SUVs and what they can tow. But the take away I'm getting is that they do "defy" the old rules and can pull a decent load and do a great job of it. In many cases the breaking and handling are far superior to the standard tow trucks. So the only shortfall is the wheelbase and their own weight. Which of course can be a huge benefit to parking and fuel economy. In some respects the advanced technology and design of these vehicles makes up for their only shortfalls.

I don't find myself picking up a big truck. I've driven too many over the years to feel like I would want to drive 200-500 miles in one. I'll give up the idea of a trailer before that happens. For me a truck is great on the farm or job site, but it's not what I'm looking for on long haul. If I get back into the business I'll pick-up a truck in a heart beat, because it's needed there. The SUV is the best blend in a city. I can grab a trailer for hauling construction material or something too big to fit in the back. But most of the time It's just a nice vehicle to drive around town in and maybe carry a decent impromptu load in the back.

I also get the sense that hitch set-up and equipment is critical. A poor set-up isn't felt in the big trucks but can be in the smaller, mid-size vehicles than now have engines capable of pulling these vehicles at a fair speed. It's not that the problem isn't there in the big trucks - you just don't feel it until you loose a trailer. So regardless on the final choice, I'm going to spend the time getting a good hitch set-up from a knowledgeable source on the vehicle and trailer. I see there is a company in Toronto that is quite good in this area.
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:51 PM   #20
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You're on the right track, researching options and being careful with your choices. If you're used to heavy duty work/farm trucks, you don't usually crunch the numbers. Nor do you worry about mechanical sway control.

But to come up with a safe and reasonable TT/TV match that's not a full-sized pickup, computing weights and capacities carefully is a must. Though many in this forum recommend the biggest TV you can afford - so you never have to worry about control or power margins - for various reasons of practicality, cost, multi-use requirements, or even garage size, a full-sized truck is not always the solution for everyone. Most TT makers have newer lightweight designs made to be pulled by SUVs/medium trucks - but in Airstreams' case, the lighter, older/classic units tend to be the better weight match for newer TVs!

Talk to your dealer about different sway control systems, and as folks have advised, specifically take a look at the Equalizer and Reese Dual Cam designs, or even the Hensley-Arrow. The latter is expensive, but well recommended by many A/Sers.
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:51 AM   #21
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Whizzo,

I think you nailed it right on the head. The sway control equipment and calculations are something I've never dealt with. And I can see where you need to do your homework to be able to use an SUV instead of a truck, which would be my choice out of the shoot. Looks like I have a lot to learn.

Why are the newer Airstreams heavier? More equipment? Based on the age most consider vintage to be, I'm assuming they didn't have airconditioning, so I bet that's up to 500 pounds? Maybe allot less? Is the weight all in convenience equipment? I'd like to say I'd go with a vintage model, but I bet where ever that weight is coming from, I'm going to want that addition to my trailer, be it air conditioning, safety equipment or insulation (I doubt there is additional insulation based on the posts I'm reading.) And I'm probably going to want to add a few pieces, like solar, etc.
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:41 PM   #22
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Whizzo,
Why are the newer Airstreams heavier? More equipment?
You're exactly correct - the newer ones can weight 800-1000 lbs more than their 20 year old similar model counterparts. There are lots more "comfort" features that modern folks demand, everything from A/C to kitchen cabinets to microwave ovens to bigger holding tanks, even the signature wraparound windows.

The great thing - as you see all over this fine Forum - is Airstreams are so darned re-configurable. You can reasonably customize a classic (or modern) example, or go pretty wild! Folks even swap in newer axles to increase the load range, so you could add some of these features you desire, and still have a fine towing platform.
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Old 08-25-2008, 05:53 PM   #23
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Slimp Dolly

Do a search on here on "Slimp" and check those threads out.

A slimp wheel or dolly (also called a "slip dolly") was a common thing in the 50's. Basically it's a small axle with one or two wheels that the tongue of the trailer sits on. That bears the hitch weight of the trailer, so all your car has to do is pull it. I've read some posts and reviews online of guys that have used them and they have nothing but praise for them. Say they basically eliminate sway altogether because you have another set of tires up front. But, they free swivel so you can backup OK.

The biggest negative to them, I think, is that it's possible to pull way more trailer than you ever have any business attempting with a given size tow vehicle.

But, they worked in the 50's, and they still work. As well, there are at least two makers of them out there right now. Do the search and check the links. They're pretty slick.

Good luck!
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Old 08-25-2008, 06:50 PM   #24
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Quote:
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I've figure out the search feature and been doing a little research. Sounds like there is a bit of a battle about these "new" SUVs and what they can tow. But the take away I'm getting is that they do "defy" the old rules and can pull a decent load and do a great job of it. In many cases the breaking and handling are far superior to the standard tow trucks. So the only shortfall is the wheelbase and their own weight. Which of course can be a huge benefit to parking and fuel economy. In some respects the advanced technology and design of these vehicles makes up for their only shortfalls.
For sure... Someone suggested the "old rules" were made up buy some guy who was towing a 30' SOB on the bumber of his 59 Chevy Apache (283 / 3 speed auto).

Times have changed and the old rules just don't seem to jive with many current, modern TV offerings especially when mated with the easy tow Airstream.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:51 PM   #25
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Have been reading about the M-B diesel in the Cherokee. Came across some real world numbers (public scale) for those interested:

4,740-lbs, solo

11,740-lbs, GCWR

Looks like the 7,200-lb rating (4WD, not 2WD) for a trailer (given 350-lbs of passenger/driver plus 50-lb misc in TV brings solo weight to

5,140-lbs

leaving a margin of

6,600-lbs for the trailer.

Fuel mileage ran from about 12.5 in heavy traffic, to 15.5 mpg Interstate towing. 0-60 times with a 5500-pounder was an ideal 19.9 seconds from two different reviews.

No word on what the manual recommends for maximum square-foot frontal area of the trailer.
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