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Old 08-06-2008, 07:00 AM   #1
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Help Newbie Understand Numbers

First I have never towed anything heavier than a motorcycle trailer.

We know what size AS we are going to purchase, a 27 FB Safari SE.

Need to purchase a TV, we are open to any truck.

After talking to too many sales people and studying the brochure spec sheets on payloads, tow ratings, etc.. I very confused...

If a truck has a 1500 lb payload, a 10000LB, towing capacity. and I load the truck with people, pets, stuff to 1500 lbs, I have to subtract that from the 10000lb towing capacity??

Does the hitch weight (hensley, Equal-i-zer, etc..) LPG bottles, count as payload agaisnt the truck rating or does that count against the trailer GVRW. I read that somewhere? Also that payload of the truck rating, is that when its fuel tanks are dry, and fuel weight goes against the payload rating???

I literally flunked out of college due to my poor math skills (writing skills are no better) so please go easy on me.

Thanks from Craig & Debbie in the South East Corner of TX.
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:07 AM   #2
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Hi Craig and Debbie and welcome to the forums. You are correct in assuming that the items carried on board the truck are subtracted from the payload. Passengers and gear are your payload. Many manufacturers are very generous these days with the optimistic tow ratings of their vehicles. The trailer GVWR is listed and the trailer also has a CCC cargo carrying capacity. The axles of the trailer are designed to carry the weight of the trailer, propane, water, and your personal belongings. I hope this helps.
I am sure others will chime in with more advice. Again, WELCOME !!
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buell View Post
...Does the hitch weight (hensley, Equal-i-zer, etc..) LPG bottles, count as payload agaisnt the truck rating or does that count against the trailer GVRW. I read that somewhere? Also that payload of the truck rating, is that when its fuel tanks are dry, and fuel weight goes against the payload rating???
Total hitch weight (the load that the tongue of the trailer puts on the truck) DOES decrease the available payload of the truck - this is often a deal breaker for tow vehicles.

The "Ratings" of the truck are real life - as the truck is ready for the road - some published ratings have assumed weights for calculations, but each tow vehicle and trailer should be weighed in combination (and loaded, ready to travel, with normal full fluids) to verify actual weights. You may be surprised how far off the "published" values may be. Remember, any rating published by any manufacturer is most likely skewed to the manufacturers advantage, and no amount of aftermarket magic, card tricks, or handwaving will change that published rating. Please be a bit cautious when you make your final decision on your tow vehicle.

We have heard for quite some time that a "Federal" rating guide is imminent, but I don't know if it's just around the corner or on the other side of $10/gallon Diesel.

CAT scales are readily available in your area (each of the major truck stops should have one), you can get a half dozen weighs for less than 20 bucks - by all means, invest the time (and the $20 bill) to convince yourself that your tow is safe AND you have the equalization bars set to their optimum loading.

Other discussions can be found in these threads:
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...culate+payload

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...culate+payload

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...culate+payload

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f463...culate+payload

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f238...culate+payload

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f368...culate+payload

These are threads going back to April of this year - many, many threads discussing this matter are extant from the inception of these Forums.

Welcome - now that you are registered, take advantage of the "search" function available in the upper right hand pull down area to thoroughly investigate what others have written on this subject.

Most here agree that a "safety factor" of around 20% is very wise when selecting a Tow Vehicle to tow your trailer.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:15 AM   #4
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I think you can just cut to the chase and plan on purchasing a true 3/4 ton vehicle from one of the major U.S. manufacturers since there aren't any true 3/4 tons produced by the imports. You will need a 3/4 ton to handle the weight of a newer 27' trailer. Right now, I understand that the new 3/4 ton and bigger trucks are being sold heavily discounted as never before in history, so it is a great time to buy one. The bigger trucks will use no more fuel than a half ton and in many instances will far outperform the half ton on fuel mileage. Then there are the other "perks". A 3/4 ton's brakes, radiator, transmission, wheel bearings, tire longevity, etc. far exceed that of a lesser truck. I ranch. Over the years, we've had a few half tons that we wore out almost immediately while today here on the ranch I have four 3/4 and one ton trucks still in operation that should been worn out years ago by most standards. I still use a one ton 1960 Chevrolet, a 1971 Ford, a 1996 F-350 Ford with over 200,000 miles and NO problems other than tires and batteries and a 2004 F-250. These trucks operate on dusty rough ranch roads pulling all sorts of loads and all types of trailers. But aside from the longevity, you will simply just need a 3/4 ton for the numbers you speak of to work out.
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:25 AM   #5
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Let's do the math. A 27' Airstream Safari weighs about 5900 pounds "dry." The GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) is about 7600 pounds. (I'm not sure what year you are buying so these are just estimates. You can plug in your own numbers). So, what does this mean? It means your new silver twinkie shouldn't be loaded to heavier than 7600 pounds... but let's use the 7600 number as we move forward to Step Two.

Every tow vehicle should have a GCWR... a gross combined vehicle weight rating. What does this mean? If you pull your loaded truck (with you and your passengers) hitched to your trailer the total weight of EVERYTHING should be less than the GCWR. OK? So what is missing here? Aha! The weight of the truck! Now, it's important not to get confused here. Every truck has a GVWR or gross vehicle weight rating. This is the "weight limit" for the truck and its load. What you want is the "gross weight" of the vehicle. This how much the truck actually weighs loaded.

So, let's work on this with an actual truck. The most popular truck in terms of sales is probably the Ford F-150, a half ton truck. Let's use the 5.4l V8 with the 3.73 rear end. The GCWR ("everything") is 13500 pounds. Subtract 7600 from 13500. This means a F-150 with everything including the dog and a can of Red Bull should not wear more than 5900 pounds. This means you could not load the truck to its fully rated vehicle weight (about 6600 pounds) without exceeding the magical GCWR number.

Now, I generally agree with the general advice that anything over 7000 pounds of trailer demands (or strongly suggests) a 3/4 or 1 ton truck. I think if you look at the weight of 3/4 or 1 ton trucks, the weight of your trailer, you're going to do OK on staying under the GCWR ("everything") number. If you were pulling a vintage 25' trailer that weighed under 5000 pounds "fully loaded," you could find some very serviceable 1/2 ton trucks.

I hope this helps. By the way, if the math really intimidates you, just post the make, model and year of the truck that catches your eye. There are plenty of folks here who will crunch your numbers for you... at no cost. Best of luck.
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Old 08-06-2008, 12:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buell View Post
...After talking to too many sales people and studying the brochure spec sheets on payloads, tow ratings, etc.. I very confused....
Sales people are probably (with very few exceptions) the LEAST believable source of information...

A real life scenario....a new Ford F-150 with available payload of 1,800 lbs...each individual truck will vary, but for now let's assume 1,800 lbs. We should subtract 360 lbs (20%) for a "safety factor", so let's see where that new 150 with a 1440 lb load limit specs out for towing.

Further, lets assume the following...

Trailer Tongue and Hitch - 800 lbs (the 27 FB actual tongue weight will be about 700 lbs, plus 100 lbs for a decent adjustable hitch with sway control).

Two "super-sized" adults - 400 lbs - individual amounts may vary.

30 gallons or so of gasoline (not accounted for in the truck spec weight) - 240 lbs (could be less, but probably as much as 60 lbs more)

We're already at the 1440 lb "limit".

Things not yet considered -

Dog and dog "stuff" (crates, X-Pens, food, etc.) - 50 lbs

Food, computer, drinks, clothing in the cab (little stuff adds up in a hurry) - 50 lbs

"Toys" - firewood, bikes, generator, burn pit, pink flamigoes, etc...not too hard to imagine a couple of hundred pounds of "miscellaneous".

As you can see, a "real" tow vehicle lands you squarely in the middle of the capabilities of a 3/4 ton truck.

There a lots of both Forum and non-Forum events coming up in the next couple of months - it would be really beneficial to go to a couple of ralleys and talk to people who actually pull Airstreams and find out what they think of their past and present tow vehicles.

As I mentioned before, there is no substitute for an actual weight of your rig's individual axles (set up for travelling) taken at a certified scale...anything less is just guesswork.
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:23 PM   #7
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Appreciate the info

Thanks everyone. Just got back from Houston looking at TV,s and even made it to the Airtstream Dealer up in Spring Tx.

I have been off from work the past month and I think I read every Tow Vehicle thread on here, my eyes were burning. There are many thoughts on the correct TV and I am trying to make a informed decision.

87MH, Ditto on the dog, ours has her crate and x-pen that travels with us. We actually set it up in Motels.

Definitely leaning toward the 3/4 ton. Thanks again...
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Old 08-06-2008, 06:46 PM   #8
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A 3/4 anything, we be partial to these.










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Old 08-06-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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Toys

Thats the ticket... We have Kayaks, bicycles, windsurfers, so the 3/4 payload is needed....
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Old 08-06-2008, 08:10 PM   #10
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A Sirburpin' or similar (Excursion, etc), are good tow vehicles at the 3/4 level. Have to decide what kind of "gear" your going to be carrying to and from.

We chose a pickup since we sometimes carry our own wood & sometimes, gasoline powered gear (don't like the smell inside the truck). Also, a wet and smelly dog can dry more easily in the bed of a pickup vs. inside the vehicle... just depends on what you'll be taking with you.

It's really better to have more capacity than less when towing... especially traveling in the mountains/steep grades. Don't want the engine to work harder than it has to...

Welcome to the forums and Airstreaming!
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:03 PM   #11
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Okay, coming from the wife of a mechanic who inspects these vehicles... and shopped for our tow vehicle....
you want at least a 3/4 ton, heavy duty full size pickup, or a similar vehicle with a wide wheel base. Pick up should not be short based, or usually short bed. Many vehicles will say they have towing capabilities to handle the weight of your trailer, but you want something that will STOP IT. (just in case) Some people are able to get by with less, if their terrain is flat, or level, but hills, or emergency stopping is the ultimate test. Don't take a chance.
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Old 08-11-2008, 08:15 PM   #12
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3/4 ton is the way to go, better to be on the safe side..You can pull it with a gas engine, but I love the diesel, especially if you're going to be pulling in the mountains..
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:47 AM   #13
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I would have liked a diesel over gas, but initial cost and odor were a consideration when we were looking. We also use our gas 3/4 ton gas for a business plow vehicle. I guess in that instance, the odor could be overpowering. But there are many pluses to a diesel tow vehicle.
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