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Old 09-02-2010, 11:50 AM   #1
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1995 34' Excella
Warrenton , Missouri
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 5
new owner of excella 34', what tow vehicle should I buy?

My wife and I came across a deal too good to pass up and now are the proud new owners of a 1995 34' excella. My only problem is I have nothing to tow it with. I know my 02 dakota will not get the job done. I am not sure if a 3/4 ton truck will do it or if I need a one ton. Can someone recommend a good earlier model tow vehicle that will get the job done?

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Old 09-02-2010, 12:07 PM   #2
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Congratulations on your new Airstream. As for tow vehicle, any of the big three 3/4 ton diesel or large V8 / V10 will do the job nicely. I don't thing you need to go to a one ton or anytrhing with dual wheels. We tow our '87 34' Excella 1000 with an '06 GMC diesel and it pulls it just fine with plenty of horses to spare.

Carl, Elaine & Finn The Beagle
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2006 GMC 2500 HD 6.6 Turbo Diesel Crew Cab 8' Bed
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:13 PM   #3
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

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

You're going to want a substantial tow vehicle for a 34 footer. A 3/4 ton tow vehicle is probably a given. Many prefer a diesel for the pulling torque at lower rpm. There are a couple of gasoline engines that may fit the bill. One is the 8.1 liter GM V-8 and the other is the Ford V-10. Both were offer in 3/4 ton SUV's (Suburban 2500 and Excursion). Both are still available on the used market.

You will also need to start researching the various weight distribution/sway control hitch systems. You are going to want a quality unit for a trailer that large and heavy.

SuEllyn & Brian McCabe
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2015 FC 25' FB (Lucy) with HAHA
2005 Suburban 2500 Quadrasteer (Olivia) & 2018 Silverado 2500 (Lillian)
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:21 PM   #4
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Welcome! You've already tapped into one of the very best resources on the web for all things Airstream!

This time last year I was in the same boat, almost anyway, with a 30' '94 Excella and no tow vehicle (TV). My brother in law wisely said "Dennis, your life is about to get miserable if you don't pick the right pickup." He went on to suggest a 3/4 ton Chevy with the Duramax diesel. Found a beauty on the internet for under $20K, fully-loaded. "Oh, yeah," said brother in law "get four wheel drive. You'll thank me for that one later." I have.

The Chevy gets an incredible 22 mpg around town and 14-15 mpg towing an 8500 lb. trailer. Andy R. of Inland RV will give you suggestions on an appropriate weight-distributing hitch system once you've found your TV.

Best to you--You'll love your Airstream, and this community!
'94 Excella 1000; '03 Silverado 2500HD
Louisville, Tennessee
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:21 PM   #5
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Not sure how far back you're looking but the 3/4 ton pickups and suburbans from Chevvy with the 7.4 liter (454) gas engine were highly regarded in their day. The 8.1 was only a slight improvement.

The 1 ton pickups generally don't have improved towing performance. In fact, sometimes it's worse reflecting the higher empty weight of the truck. They are great for large truck campers, where there is an enormous load on the rear axle, but they have the same engine and transmission as a 3/4 ton.
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:34 PM   #6
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123f5 - Welcome to the Forums


I grew up across the river from you in Washington.

Regarding the Excursion - make sure you weigh the tongue load and weigh the excursion prior to purchase - the max rear axle load and max vehicle weight are posted on the driver's door area. I am towing a '78 Sovereign 31'er and almost have the Excusion maxed out weight-wise with only a minimum amount of gear and only 2 people in the Ex - I am sure I would bust the manufacturers limit should I try to tow a 34'er.

Many people recommend a 20% tow load safety factor for any given TV (Tow Vehicle). Actually, on most vehicles, the max GVWR is about to be exceeded if you adhere to the 20% tow weight theory. 3/4 or 1 ton - don't be afraid to loose a couple of rear spring leaves to soften the ride on the AS - in other words, don't make the ride any harsher than necessary for your particular weight requirement.

LOTS to learn about axles, floor rot, Weight Distributing Hitches, and the difference between camping and Airstreaming here in the Forums...

The "search" function will soon become your best friend.

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 09-02-2010, 03:59 PM   #7
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The one ton dually is a great tow vehicle. I've owned 2, a Ford and now a Chevy.
Do you need one to tow your new trailer? I doubt it, but they are nice and worth considering. Lots of people with 34's use 3/4 ton pickups as tow vehicles.
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Old 09-05-2010, 08:22 AM   #8
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1990 34' Excella
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Savage , Minnesota
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I tow with no issues using an '06 3/4 Ton Chevy Silverado Duramax Diesel. I cannot recommend this engine with the Allison Tranny highly enough. I will never tow without Diesel power again. Yesterday I towed in 20-40 MPH head winds. You should have seen the non-Airstream non-Diesels.
"I've got aluminum fever, and the only prescription, is more AIRSTREAM!!!"

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Old 09-05-2010, 09:45 AM   #9
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Trotwood , Ohio
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Personal Opinionn Only
I think you would be perfectly happy with anything in a 3/4 ton,single wheel,Long bed Crewcab. Desiel. Should cover all the bases. I know thats alot of truck but then thats alot of trailer.
CONGRATS on your new purchase and Well To AIRFORUMS.
Roger & MaryLou
7.3 liter Power Stroke Diesel
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May your roads be straight and smooth and may you always have a tailwind!
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Old 09-05-2010, 10:00 AM   #10
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1979 30' Argosy
Havelock , where we park it
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Hello ... You may want to check into an Airsafe Hitch... have one and love it and this is coming from the dw... Annie
Marvin & Annie
Niki (fur baby)
1979 Argosy 30 (Costalotta)
WBCCI 10103
"Happiness is a warm Puppy" Charles Schulz
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:33 PM   #11
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With a 3/4T there were occasions I ran myself up against payload (RAWR) due to heavy trailer tongue and what junk I carried in the back of my longbed Dodge diesel. I specifically chose 2WD for fuel economy (and the IFS/R&P steering). Had I to do it over again, I might have gone for 1T. If you contemplate heavy tools/supplies and a really big auxiliary fuel tank, then, yes, you want 1T as the tongue weight of a big trailer is no small consideration.

Start your reading now about hitch rigging. The very day you buy the truck take it to a certified scale and weigh it with only you on board (plus full fuel) in order to get started properly on using a set of scales for your WDH.

Good luck

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
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Old 09-05-2010, 09:47 PM   #12
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1963 26' Overlander
1961 26' Overlander
Central , Mississippi
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We are happy with our choice...3/4T, 2wd, diesel '06 dodge quad cab...drags the '91 34' around quite well...even with almost 1000 lbs tongue weight and a bed full-o-crap...just got home from a 4,500+ mile trip averaging around 12.5 MPG. Congrats on the ya gotta get out and use it!

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Hi Ho Silver RV! Vernon, Sarah, Mac the Border Collie -
A honkin' long 34' named AlumaTherapy
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