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Old 04-23-2016, 11:48 PM   #1
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2016 19' International
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Just bought our first Airstream! Please help us w/a truck.

Hi everyone,

After years of reading this forum and thinking about it, we went out today and bought our first Airstream. A 19' International Serenity. A real dream come true for me. My wife is really excited too.

Unit Base Weight: 3823#
Gross Vehicle Weight: 4500#
Hitch Weight: 550#

After a lot of very kind people spent their time answering my questions about how to purchase a reasonably-sized tow vehicle that could maybe fit into our garage, we have decided to get a truck instead. We spent today looking at trucks as well, and ended up really liking the following 2:

1. Chevy 2500 Duramax Crew Cab Standard Box (probably over-kill on anything we'd ever get...definitely overkill on this trailer). Super quiet diesel, great power, and really quiet cabin. Downsides...real expensive and Chevy's financing offers suck.

and

2. Ford F-150 Lariat Crew Cab Short Bed 3.5L EcoBoost. Super Quiet Cabin and really liked the EcoBoost. I know a lot of people on the forum like these as well.

When we were talking to the Airstream dealer, we started talking about sway control and weight distribution hitches. He said the only thing he recommended was to install an Equalizer Sway Control Hitch. He said the disliked Hensley hitches so much that they won't even touch a trailer that comes in with a Hensley, and they make the owner completely unhitch the trailer themselves before the dealer will even touch it.

So, will you please help me with our truck and which options we will need? We live in Colorado and will be doing a lot of mountain driving.

Also, do we need anything other than the Equalizer anti-sway hitch, or will this be sufficient? Safety is my #1 priority.

Thank you all for any help and advice.
Chris
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:04 AM   #2
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Just bought our first Airstream! Please help us w/a truck.

Congrats on the new trailer

If it was me I would go with the F150 as its more than enough truck for what you need and it will be more cost effective to maintain compared to the diesel.

As for your dealers comments on hitches. He is full of crap! The only reason they don't like the high end hitches is they don't sell them. So if they cannot make a $ off it then it's no good in their mind. This just confirms how jaded their advise really is and I would take anything they have to say with a grain of salt.

By the way, we run a F150 Eco boost pulling a 28' and run in the mountains all the time without an issue, so you won't have any issues either. The 2500 is just way more truck than you need.


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Old 04-24-2016, 12:26 AM   #3
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I too would suggest that the F150 will do the job nicely. Of course, as will all things, what your plans are down the road will make a big difference. Are you planning on getting a larger trailer? Do you like to pack lots of stuff in the back of your truck? Are you going to use this truck as a daily driver?

As far as hitches go, you can spend the big bucks for a Hensley or you can go with the Equalizer. I have been using an Equalizer for many years now and really like it. No problems here and I have towed the Airstream close to 30K miles. Lots of people here use the Equalizer and like it. Some go upscale and like theirs. To each his own. It might come down to how much money you have to spend.
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Old 04-24-2016, 12:44 AM   #4
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Thank you both.

This will eventually be my daily driver once my 1996 Subaru finally bites it, if it ever does.

For what we'll be putting in the back...it's just my wife and I plus two golden retrievers in the cab, plus likely a generator, a couple mountain bikes, some firewood and a cooler in the truck bed. Nothing too extreme.

We don't have any plans to upgrade, and tried to buy our "second" trailer first. We were really looking at the 16' Sports, and ended up with this one to last us a while longer. Plus, the campgrounds out here can be pretty narrow...the 19' seems like a really great size for the campgrounds up in the Colorado mountains.

Thank you again, and nice to hear that the F150 is plenty for towing through the mountains.
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Old 04-24-2016, 05:37 AM   #5
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We pulled a 25' and then a 30' for a short while with the F150 Ecoboost. It did a terrific job with the 25', not so much (for us) with the 30'. Enough power, not enough of everything else.

As mentioned by ArticFox, your dealer is questionable, the Hensley and ProPride lines are, in my opinion, superior hitches. We do not use either, however, as I have an Equalizer after using a Reese set up for 40 years and like the Equalizer and do not see a need to move up to the other two.

Congratulations on the new trailer - the ONLY suggestion I'd make is if it is even remotely possible you might move up in trailer size, you might opt for an F250 and it could be gas or Diesel. We travel with two Labrador Retrievers in a 30' and on cold rainy days it even gets a little tight.

Enjoy

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Old 04-24-2016, 06:35 AM   #6
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I'm a diesel guy and don't like fords, but in this case I would think the ford is your best choice.
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Old 04-24-2016, 06:49 AM   #7
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Try to get your F-150 with "MaxTow" option. You get a bigger radiator, tranny cooler, bigger alternator, tow/haul mode on the tranny, antisway etc. also I have an Equilizer hitch on a 9000# Classic that works fine though I have no experience with premium hitches.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:19 AM   #8
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My first RV trailer was a 25' 2013 25FB International Serenity. I had read the forums enough to select a Hensley Arrow hitch as I was towing with a 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI diesel SUV. Towed the trailer from the dealer in Los Angles, up the steep mountain coming eastward out of Palm Springs on I-10 and finally to the East side of Phoenix. I was driving 55 mph for the whole trip.

Once into Arizona, the semi trucks were passing as they were driving at 75 to 80 mph. There were no sway or buffeting issues.

Once the trailer and car were loaded for camping with two people in the car, we crossed the CAT scales and found the axle limits were exceeded. We then acquired a 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins. Towing issues resolved and when we traded for the 31' Classic, I kept the Hensley in storage and acquired a Pro Pride for the Classic. Still no buffeting or away issues.

We then acquired a 2015 23D International Serenity and installed our stored Hensley Arrow on it and are towing the 23D with the 2007 Mercedes. This seems to be a perfect match and have no handling issues at all and the CAT scales report all the numbers are good. We have the 23D heavily modified and loaded for camping the GVW is 6,068 pounds. We have our propane converted Honda 2000 watt generator, a 30 pound spare propane tank, a propane powered grill, a compact air compressor, a tire ramp along with the hitch tools and two ZipDee chairs in the back of the Mercedes.

So the F150 could be more than adequate for a 19' Airstream. It all depends on the trim level of the truck (there is a 500 pound empty weight gain between a base model and a King Ranch model with corresponding decrease in payload). Also, the Airstream literature tongue weight is always understated. So by the time one fills the fresh water tank and the hot water heater (6 gallon = about 50 pounds) and full propane tanks and a hitch head are installed/mounted the tongue weight could be closer to 750 to 800 pounds.

Your first effort will be to take a test drive across the CAT scales with the wife and a full tank of gasoline in the vehicle. That establishes the base weights on both axles and the total starting weight for loading purposes. Take the total scale weight from the GVW and that is the remaining payload for the dogs, real tongue weight, and stuff in the back of the truck.

In theory, a good weight distribution hitch can move about ⅓ of the total tongue weight to the trailer axles and spread the remaining weight to the tow vehicle axles. In a perfect world , ⅓ would be on each axle.

Remember the camper shell or bed cover, running boards and all other added "accessories" add weight to the truck and reduce the payload pound for pound.

A towing package would usually include a transmission fluid cooler, trailer brake control and seven wire receptacle in the back of the truck and possibly tow mirrors that can be extended out to see around the trailer. Also, get away from the OEM soft passenger tires which are a great ride but lack the sidewall stiffness to help control the trailer and can actually reduce your allowable payload.

All the best during your selection process. Ask questions. There are lots of answers with some better than others.
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Old 04-24-2016, 07:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muskypicker View Post
Hi everyone,

After years of reading this forum and thinking about it, we went out today and bought our first Airstream. A 19' International Serenity. A real dream come true for me. My wife is really excited too.

When we were talking to the Airstream dealer, we started talking about sway control and weight distribution hitches. He said the only thing he recommended was to install an Equalizer Sway Control Hitch. He said the disliked Hensley hitches so much that they won't even touch a trailer that comes in with a Hensley, and they make the owner completely unhitch the trailer themselves before the dealer will even touch it.
Also, do we need anything other than the Equalizer anti-sway hitch, or will this be sufficient? Safety is my #1 priority.

Chris:

Congratulations on taking your time and doing the proper research.

IF safety is #1 in your choices, please consider a Propride or a Hensley - after the statement by your dealer (a manager or a salesman?) I would seriously discount anything else he or she would say to you.

I have towed with Equalizers (Equal-I-zer), Reese Dual Cam, and Hensleys.

Equalizer is at the bottom of my preference list. I fail to understand how the Equalizer would control sway. Without going to the big bucks of the Propride-Hensley I think the Reese Dual Cam would give the most bang for the bucks.

The seating of the Dual-Cam in the chain end saddles gives some amount of anti sway control and centering and holding the trailer to the centerline of the tow vehicle.

I have towed with a dual friction set up on a straight bar hitch and really did not care for it - too difficult to hitch and unhitch and never did get the "feeling" that the brake surfaces were adjusted properly.

Do weigh your rig as soon as you set up for camping on a CAT scale. Do at least 4 weighs at your first session to find your actual tongue weight and how weight is transferred to the front axle of your tow vehicle as you decrease the number of chain links under tension on the hitch (or weight bar distribution height settings in the case of an Equalizer). Rear axle weight is usually the first manufacturers limit busted when towing a RV.

Remember, actual tongue weights after setting up for camping are usually 100 to 200 pounds heavier than the numbers from the Airstream factory. Usually propane and hitch will account for most of the additional weight.

How long do you usually keep a vehicle - the answer would probably impact the TV selection.
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:39 AM   #10
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I would go with the F150 as long as it has the Max Tow package on it. More than capable, and the money you save compared to the diesel option you mentioned can go towards more travelling!!
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:40 AM   #11
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Great question, Dennis.

We are not ones for trading in a vehicle. We like to buy them and keep them as long as possible.

Thanks for all the great answers, and please keep them coming!
Chris
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Old 04-24-2016, 08:44 AM   #12
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"Equalizer is at the bottom of my preference list. I fail to understand how the Equalizer would control sway"

When they are setup correctly they use the physics of friction at 4 locations to control sway. Equalizers work just fine when setup correctly. It's important to ensure when setting them up that they are generating the appropriate amount of weight distribution. Having the correct tension on the spring bars is necessary to generate the appropriate amount of friction to stop sway before it begins.

I've been towing my 25' for 7 years with an equalizer - the only time I've ever experienced sway was when the hitch was not setup correctly and the spring bars did not have enough tension on them.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:01 AM   #13
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F150 Ecoboost is a good match, an Expedition Ecoboost would be a little more stable with it's full independent suspension, ride a little better, and with available shorter wheelbase be more maneuverable in the campgrounds and in town without the trailer.

Hensley/Propride eliminate any possibility of sway and will not allow semi's to push you around on the interstate with their bow wave. Equal-I-Zer uses a simpler friction-based sway control system that does not work nearly as well, and cannot be relieved of friction when you want to navigate icy mountain passes, and the friction resisting the return of the trailer to centerline can be dangerous. We've had both, they're a completely different towing experience.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:06 AM   #14
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My 1999 Excella came with a Hensley hitch. After full-timing for 3 years it has been great to not feel the 18 wheelers as they pass. As far as dealers that are not prepared to deal with our hitch are the ones we do not want to use. Dealing with all types of hitches as a dealer should be fairly simple.
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