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Old 10-31-2010, 04:06 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1965 24' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Smile Many numbers, a few questions!

I have been doing some researching, much reading of previous posts and threads and feel I have a valid question.
First, a little about my situation.
The decision to get a trailer, esp. an Airstream is more an emotional one and not a necessity. We are happy tenting but we are ready to take our experience to a different level. I like vintage things, and like probably most of you, an Airstream caught my eye at an early stage. I'm ready to embrace that romance and get serious!

I do not own either the TV nor the TT although I'm shopping for both.
I have NO towing experience, nor trailer camping experience but am very experienced in car tent camping and backpacking.
I am wanting a 'silver bullet' to extend my camping season despite the weather conditions.
I live in Calgary, Alberta which is 1 hour from the Canadian Rockies and my wife and I hike, downhill mountian bike and dirt-bike trail ride. If possible, a properly winterized trailer could entice us into camping at the ski hill during the winter. Water may not need to be carried at all if a freezing hazard).
The tent camping season starts (I'm not a serious snow camper) about May and ends about mid October. Out of that range, you are looking at serious cold, wet and snow. One reason to go camping during those conditions is to get away from everyone else. My wife and I enjoy reading and 'putting' around a campsite/boondock is no problem.
The longest we would camp in a trailer would be 1 week absolute max.
It may gross you out, but in that 1 week, we may not need to shower using onboard facilities. Drinking water would be either brought with or fresh filtered from nearby streams/lakes. I mention this since water storage on a trailer accounts for a percentage of total weight.
We don't need much in the way of luxuries, and I expect to do most of the cooking out of the trailer over a campfire unless weather dictates otherwise. Again, if the weather is pretty much anything other than rain or snow, we will spend a lot of time outside instead of cooped up.

Due to our ecological leanings, a full-size truck is out of the question. Don't get me wrong..I lust after a Cummins and realize the awesome potential of a full size truck. However, my lovely spouse is extremely resistant to the idea and when I analyze my potential usage of a truck, I have to agree. We would be towing the trailer about 5 times a year. Maximum 10 times..estimated distance each trip no more than 800 miles. The primary use of the TV would be commuting to work and general household chores. Fuel is only going to get more expensive so I have to hedge all bets! I hate having to upgrade since that usually is a loss-generating position and am content..honestly content to keep my trailer size to a minimum. Again, with our expected usage, it is more of a roof over the head and the desire to add 'vintage' to our camping experience. I won't be living in'll be my weekend warrior.

I desire a 4x4 due to our road and snow conditions although I see advantages to the 4x2 with snow tires. Properly weighted and 'shod', a rear wheel drive isn't something I fear. True off-road mud trails I'd rather leave to my dirtbike and not the truck so I'm wishy-washy on the 4x4.

The trailer I envision us being able to live with (again, the larger the trailer, the less likely I can justify trailering at all...this might seem strange, but we believe in keeping it small) would be something very similar to a 1960-70's Caravel or Bambi.
A well sorted out Caravel of this vintage, with a new axle and modern tires, would suit our needs perfectly. Small enough for just the two of us (and only two of us) yet large enough to 'live' in for a week but more than enough to enjoy for the weekend.

I am trying to provide as much detail so as to avoid the common questions. I value your advice and time and wish to simply give you as much info as I can.
In the next message, I will detail one truck I'm considering as well as providing some specific 'real world' numbers for a trailer like I'm considering.
I think it works reasonably well (read: has a safety margin most could live with and satisfies my 'daily driver' needs without bankrupting the gas budget).

What I need is advice on aspects I know nothing about:
Length of trailer vs. length of TV..tail wagging dog issues?
If payload is maxed out on a rare occassion, would you add a leaf spring?
Alternative vehicles satisfying above story requirements?

Actual numbers coming tomorrow!
Thanks in advance.

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Old 10-31-2010, 05:02 PM   #2
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lpatkins's Avatar
1976 23' Safari
Chauvin , Alberta
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 30
Welcome, nice to see a fellow Albertan. Spent alot of time in your neck of the woods over the years. The rocky mountians are by far the best place to camp and explore! My two cents on your questions, the length of TV and trailer isn't an issue with the size of trailer you are thinking about. If you are really worried about it spend some money on a hitch. You sound like you will be using your trailer to sleep in and store stuff, which is the purpose I use mine for, you won't overload it. I run a 2008 GMC extended cab with a 5.3L pulling a 23 ft trailer with two teenage daughters. The 3 of us are usually on the road for 2/3 weeks durning the summer, and this setup suits me just fine. Bonus is that the truck gets pretty good mileage without the trailer (25/26)and is the primary farm vehcile as well. Wouldn't consider any other truck for my purpose. Word of advice go with a 4X4, you might not use it much but you will wish you had it when you need it. Good luck

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Old 10-31-2010, 05:43 PM   #3
2 Rivet Member
1968 20' Globetrotter
Kelowna , British Columbia
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 78
Welcome 2Stroke! I have only limited towing experience but my Jeep Liberty CRD seems just fine for the Globetrotter, so a Caravel or Bambi would be that much easier. A good hitch is on my 'list'.

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Old 10-31-2010, 07:08 PM   #4
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1997 34' Limited
1970 27' Overlander
South of Atlanta , Georgia
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,661
Images: 2
AS to a TV, several people on the forum use the VW Toureg (sp?). I tow ours with a 2009 F150. I get around 16 mpg in town, and 22 mpg on the highway. (10 when towing our 34' Airstream, you would obviously do better with a smaller/lighter trailer). The VW might be an option that you wife could live with if not embrace.
Craig and Carol
1997 34' Excella 1000
1970 27' Overlander, International
2009 Ford F150 5.4L
ProPride hitch with 1400# bars

AIR 41028
WBCCI 10199
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Old 11-01-2010, 06:43 AM   #5
1 Rivet Member
1965 24' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
Thanks for the responses!
Aviator..when I initially thought about the Dodge Cummins (since I own a 24' Tradewind but haven't pulled/used it yet) I also thought about the Toureg..the diesel one anyhow. Enough torque for anything but in my neck of the woods, hard to find and very pricey.
Canlib..I'm going to have to think about the Liberty CRD. I've always been intriqued by them and just haven't heard enough pro/con. No one I know owns or has any experience with them. Please tell me a bit more about it..overall happiness level, quirks, etc.
Lpatkins..I hear you on the 4x4 issue. In my next post using numbers, there is an interesting line about 4x4 and how it impacts the numbers. Interesting thing about our area is the fact that the used vehicles usually are 4x4..more rare to find a 2wd vehicle in the truck arena.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:56 AM   #6
1 Rivet Member
1965 24' Tradewind
Calgary , Alberta
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 5
The numbers as promised!
Using a 1971 Caraval as example, with new axle and modern tires. This is a 18' trailer which I think is bumper to hitch, or 216" long.
Hitch weight loaded is 360-450#
Empty wt: 3290#
Full wt on axle: 3900 sorted out..this number taken from an experienced member so I expect he's figured out what's needed and what's not. Make it an even 4000 for a safety margin.

Tow Vehicle in mind: 2005-2007 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Long Box. I can choose the 'prerunner' model which is a 2wd or the 4runner which is 4x4. This truck is designed by Americans, and Made by Americans/or Canadians so as a Canadian, I have no problem choosing an "import" over one of the 'big 3' as in my mind, I'm keeping my neighbors employed and in truth, the lines are pretty blurred when you look at what components make up a vehicle and where they come from. Bottom line is I won't get into that kind of arguement. Period.

This model has a wheelbase of 141" and an overall length of 221". It has disc brakes up front and unfortunately drums on the rear. It has a 3.73 rear end, a 5 speed auto and produces in stock trim, 266ft/lbs of torque at 4000rpm and 236hp at 5200rpm.

4x2 4x4
Curb wt 3975 4190
GVWR 5350 5450
Payload 1375 1260
Tongue 350/630max same
Tow Cap
std 3500 same
Max 6300* 6300*
GCWR 8100 same
w/tow 11,100 same

Some of these numbers were taken from the 2010 model but the numbers have to be very similar to the 2006 model. In fact, I've added a margin of safety since the 2006 model lists it max towing weight as 6500#.

My payload types and weights, include fuel, gear and accessories.
Moto's: 600#
People: 375
Kayaks: 120
Bicycles: 120

People, kayaks and bicycles=650 plus trailer on tongue of 400 =1050
People, motos =1000 plus trailer on tongue of 400 = 1400
Note that max listed payload for truck is 1375 or 1260 so on very rare occassions, it would be at/very near max payload plus towing a trailer.

Calculating an 80% safety margin of the max towing cap of 6300#, we can tow 5000#. Our sample trailer weight of 3900# appears to fall nicely into that range. 4000# is 63% if I did my math right!

However, calculating curb weight of 3975, payload of 1375 and towing trailer of 4000, the total combined weight is 9350, which is 1750lbs short of the 11,100 GCWR.
This seems a little close but is it unreasonable?

I realize a few things.
Stopping is perhaps more important to me than roaring up those mountain roads and with the rear drum brakes, unless I can improve the pads and find a disc brake conversion, stopping while fully loaded may be pushing this truck combo.

Running..I realize a full load will tax the engine and increase wear/tear on components. Since a full load will be an exception in this trucks life, I'm prepared to live with that problem. I have no problem going slowly up mountain passes..I used to own a naturally aspirated VW Golf diesel and we would load that up with camping gear, two kayaks on top and two downhill mountian bikes. That would turn an otherwise slow car into a virtual slug.

What I am worried about is the whole 'tail wagging the dog' scenario. How does the length of the trailer being darn close to the length of the TV affect handling? If the truck is loaded (payload), does that reduce any 'wagging' effect or make it worse?

Since max payload may be approached several times a year (but not everyday), should I look into adding a leaf spring?

I understand that adding a factory supercharger will make quite a difference on power/torque and possibly towing capacity values...however, it costs several thousand so I'd like to not go there if possible.

4x4 option adds 215# to curb weight, reduces payload by 115# and adds 100# to GVWR. I don't understand how it can add to GVWR? Is my brain failing to understand something fundemental?

So bottom line is this: is this scenario safe, at the outer margin of safe, or well within reason? I'm going to assume most of the small to midsize trucks (Dakota, Colorado, Frontier, Ranger) have values in this range. The Toyota Tundra is approaching full size (maybe not in capacities but in physical size) but maybe puts this scenario more into the safety area. Safety will NOT be compromised but please temper all cautions with the knowledge that this towing/hauling condition will be happening roughly 5-10 times a year. Not every day or even weekly.

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