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Old 06-22-2010, 03:22 PM   #1
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New To Towing an Airstream - What is a good vehicle?

Hi everyone! My wife and I have decided to take a year off from work and travel by airstream around the Lower 48 and Alaska. We are thinking of buying a 27' International, but are unsure what towing vehicle to buy. We prefer more power then less, and a diesel, but that's the extent of our wish list (maybe sirius radio as well). We are looking at 3/4 or 1 ton vehicles, as I think a 1/2 ton is too light for towing. Am I wrong about this?

We would be very appreciative of any comments/suggestions that you may have, as well as if the 27' trailer is to large to tow on this type of trip. Thanks!

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Old 06-22-2010, 03:37 PM   #2
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I would agree that a 1/2 ton is too light to be ideal. You're on the right track.

In practice the reasonable choices are 3/4 ton pickups and Suburbans on 3/4 ton chassis. The 1 ton setups don't really offer any benefit, vans don't have 4wd, and everything else is too small (except for some corner cases like certain Ford Expeditions, now discontinued).

People take 27' and larger trailers all over the place. Come visit sometime and we can take my rig to town and back if you're curious.

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Old 06-22-2010, 03:44 PM   #3
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towed my 28' with an f250 diesel crewcab short box, never had a problem
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:02 PM   #4
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Crew or Quad Cab!

I'd recommend the quad cab - it will truly hold 4 to 6 adults - a crew cab is OK for children but hideously cramped for a grown person.

You'll likely fill the back with stuff until you put a bed cover of some sort on... more is more when it comes to towing safely and comfortably.

I got the long bed - too much of a good thing when not towing! Also go for 4wd. You'll rarely need it but when you do.... you need it badly. I've got the Chevy Silverado, but many like the Ford F-250 (and I think Mike Rowe is cuter than Howie Long!).

Happy trails. Oh, and love your A/S choice too.

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Old 06-22-2010, 05:46 PM   #5
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I agree with the other posters, a 3/4th ton vehicle is the way to go.
Which one is your call, all of the big three brands have supporters and you may hear from import fans also, but all imports are half ton. You need to get out and kick some tires.
The way you describe your adventure, you will be essentially full timing it for a year. You are a heavy user and would be best served with a diesel. I have been well served by my 2000 Excursion but there are lots of Dodge and GM supporters on the forum. It depends on price and preference.
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Old 06-22-2010, 05:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
I'd recommend the quad cab - it will truly hold 4 to 6 adults - a crew cab is OK for children but hideously cramped for a grown person.
Keep in mind that different manufacturers use different names for the various cab sizes... for Ford, a crewcab is a full size cab w/ four doors.

We're very happy pulling our 25' Tradewind with our 96 diesel 4x4 crewcab F250.

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Old 06-22-2010, 06:15 PM   #7
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Bart makes a good point.

Ford and Chevrolet have for some time offered a standard cab, an extended cab, and a crew cab. On the Suburban side of things, the usual configuration is three rows of seats with bucket seats in front and middle rows, so you have seven seating positions. The rear ones lack leg clearance though.

Dodge used to offer a standard cab, an extended cab, and a "quad cab" which is about halfway in size between the extended cab and the crew cab. I may be mistaken but I believe that they've changed it to be the same size as a crew cab in the last year or two.

If it's just the two of you any of those will work but inevitably situations will arise where you wish you had room for another passenger.
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Old 06-22-2010, 08:45 PM   #8
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

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

Yes, you are on the right track. You are probably going to want a 3/4 ton tow vehicle.

We have a 2005 25FB, named Lucy, who weighs in at 7400# ready to camp. We have towed Lucy almost 60,000 miles and have spent over 650 nights in her. We tow Lucy with two 2500 Suburbans.

We would definitely recommend a 3/4 to something.

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Old 06-22-2010, 09:09 PM   #9
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It appears that I have the configuration you're probably wanting.

The Ford F-250 6.0 Diesel Crew Cab long bed tows our 27' FB CCD without effort.

I had to order the truck in 2005 because I only wanted 2wd and they were near impossible to find. Haven't needed 4wd or had to be towed yet. The 2wd sits a little lower and supposedly has a smoother ride when not towing.

The truck ride is much smoother when hitched.

On my last LONG trip, 370 miles each way, using the trip computer, I got 14 mpg going and 13.8 coming back. I checked it by hand and it was accurate.

I only got the long bed because that was the only way Ford would install the larger (36 gallon) fuel tank, but it's been very useful. We occasionally will roll up the tonneau and take 2 Honda scooters along.

I'd highly recommend a hard roll-up tonneau or a topper for the bed since it will be more useful to keep things in and secured.

Good luck with your decision.

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Old 06-22-2010, 09:41 PM   #10
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Check out the used Ford Excursions...they are built on 3/4 ton pickup chassis...their last year in production was 2005, and you can find some great deals for these highly equipped TV's....

We get between 9.5 and 10.5 towing our 28ft Ambassador - sure that's about 4 gallons less in fuel mileage than the diesel powered TV's, but our V-10 has far less maintenance costs when compared with diesel power...

When you add up the initial additional purchase cost, higher fuel prices, and maintenance issues (especially on higher mileage units, injectors, fuel pump issues, etc) I believe you'll be ahead $ wise with the V-10, which has plenty of capacity and power to tow your AS in style!

We picked up a 2001 Exc Limited, 4x4, V-10, 44 gal fuel tank, New Michelin tires, all leather interior, dual AC, etc... - about 110K on the clock when we bought it a couple of years ago for about $7K ! Where are you going to find a TV built like these Excursions for such a great price...dealers don't give much as trade-ins due to MPG issues...we wanted ours for towing, not commuting to work, and it's one of the best, IMHO!

Our heavy Exc tows our AS steady as a rock - no sway, even in crosswinds and semi's flying past on the interstate!...we never get that 'tail wagging the dog' sensation with our Exc towing our AS!

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Old 06-22-2010, 09:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
and everything else is too small (except for some corner cases like certain Ford Expeditions, now discontinued).
Hi, easy to do, but I think you meant Excursions.

Originally Posted by moosetags View Post
We have a 2005 25FB, named Lucy, who weighs in at 7400# ready to camp. We have towed Lucy almost 60,000 miles and have spent over 650 nights in her. We tow Lucy with two 2500 Suburbans.

Hi, Brians trailer must be very heavy if Lucy needs two 2500 Suburbans to tow her.

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Old 06-22-2010, 10:32 PM   #12
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27' is not too long for a trip like you are planning. While a 1/2 ton can do the job, a 3/4 is preferred as you have more payload capacity in the bed. If you are on the road for months, you surely will acquire some things along the way and would probably benefit from a shell to maximize storage capacity. I just bought a 2010 3/4 ton Ford V10 for my 31' and I don't even know the trailer is behind me. More than enough power and no sway issues. I made a 500 mile maiden trip from Palm Springs to home in Sacramento last month and went over Cajon Pass and Tehachapi in 3rd gear at 65 mph. 18 wheelers and ever present winds in the Mojave area gave no trouble either. The stiffer suspension of a 3/4 ton makes a difference in my view. The diesel will give you similar results I'm sure with probably fewer fuel stops. It was my first time towing an Airstream and compared to towing a box trailer with a 1/2 ton vehicle., it was refreshing to not have to be clutching the steering wheel for dear life for 500 miles and not constantly looking in the mirror to see if a high profile vehicle is going to suck me in and then push me out as it passes. After 9 hours of towing I was not exhausted and could have gone more if needed. The ability to tow with confidence and comfort is important, especially if you are going to drive for thousands of miles.
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Old 06-26-2010, 08:18 AM   #13
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Agreed - you are going to want to fill up your trailer and the bed of the truck all increasing your stock weights - 3/4 ton won't beat up the trailer, should be comfortable to travel in - and with diesel power be good to go! :-)
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:51 PM   #14
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I am going to throw in my .02 here. (actually gonna be 10 bucks by the time im done but here it goes)

I have towed with everything from a half ton pulling a little 10' bumper pull to a Kenworth with a 53' triple axle van on the back and a huge variety in between.

What you are going to find is that the length of the tow vehicle is going to greatly effect how much trailer you can pull, the leingth of the trailer is an important factor, but more important is the weight of a trailer, and the weight distribution of the trailer.

However, something to consider when selecting a tow pig is the longer the wheel base the wider the turning radius, and the longer your trailer the more it is going to amplify this.

With what you are looking at, a 27' International, it is going to have a 7600lb GVWR, this isnt a large trailer by any means. It is a thousand pounds lighter than a comparable Jayco Jayflight 28'.

I would be really comfortable pulling this in a regular cab long bed, or a short bed extended cab 3/4 ton pickup.

Something to keep in mind is that when traveling the extended cab on an extended cab truck tends to turn into a garbage pit, Because of this I would rather have a regular cab with a topper, I know leer makes a nice one where the side windows open upward to allow you access to the whole bed as well as from the rear. It is also nice because everything is secure and not in the passenger area.

As an alternative you could tow with an suv such as a tahoe or suburban, but if you go for a tahoe you will be in a half ton. Now you can get around this with a set of air bags to help out carrying the weight.

When I was a kid my dad ran us all over the countryside up in Montana in our 26' Fleetwood Prowler, There is no good reason a burban wont tow a Airstream which is a far superior trailer that has better towing characteristics.

I know for my next trailer I am going to get between a 27 and 31' Airstream, and I am going to be using a old Willys Wagon for a tow vehicle with a Fuel Injected Chevy 350 a 5 speed manual, and a set of 1 ton axles under it, and when I construct it I am moving the back axle reaarward 2" and the forward up 4" that will stretch the wheel base to 110" that is 7" shorter than a Tahoe.

The key to making it enjoyable to tow with will be keeping the weight distribution right and using an equalizer hitch.

The only thing I worry about with your floor plan is the bed is in the front, and there is a lot of storage in and around it, you could get your tongue loaded pretty heavy, if you go for a shorter base tow vehicle you may want to consider going with a model that has the bunk in the rear, and the largest amount of open space over the tongue.

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