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Old 11-12-2008, 05:20 PM   #15
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The short wheelbase takes the fun out of it. 120" is a good minimum (in the 1960's or now); but do a search on Andy (Andrew) Thompson posts on this forum, as well as on-line, as he is about the only one to discuss using less than a battleship to tow a lifeboat (yes, exaggerated). Yes, my truck is overpowered and has a suspension too stiff for my non-A/S full-frame trailer. I think you're gettin' close to uncomfortable, but keep reading what others are doing.

There is a thread on RV.Net about a guy with a diesel JEEP Liberty towing a fair-sized box SOB, for example.
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Old 11-12-2008, 05:59 PM   #16
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Laura..."Fado" the PWD wants his buddies to travel safe.

I've used several different tv over the years.
You can sometimes get away with not enough power, but there is no substitute for wheelbase as far as safety is concerned.

Your doing the right thing. Research first, tow later.

Good luck and Stream SAFE.
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Old 11-12-2008, 07:24 PM   #17
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My 2 cents if I may;

Your TV is way to small. I wouldnt reccomend anything bigger than a 21 ft trailer.

Your engine wont have the power to pull your self out of a slide. Your wheel base is to short and narrow and will raise your chances of a slide.

my experience is also, many years of towing. commercialy. Every configuration possible.

Never risk safety. You need a half ton somethin

read this thread.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f42/...ime-46232.html
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Old 11-12-2008, 10:30 PM   #18
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I'm glad we didn't have the internet when I was 15 years old. I would have missed a lifetime of camping memories having been to afraid to tow dads popup camper down country roads with my short wheelbase Honda 90cc motorcycle...
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:18 PM   #19
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The Xterra has plenty of power to tow the Overlander - it's the very least of your concerns. Gear ratios are good (BTW, I believe that the rear axle ratio is 3.73:1).

Silvertwinkie nailed the main problem - a centre of gravity that's too high. This is compounded by overly wide and soft SUV tires.

The guy towing a long SOB trailer with his diesel Liberty is using a Hensley Arrow hitch. I recall that he also went with stiffer tires. He's quite happy with the results.

You might consider a Hensley along with narrower LT tires. You might also need have the receiver reinforced a bit to ensure it doesn't flex under torsion. Unfortunately, we're talking about more than $3,000 worth of stuff to make it work well, unless Andy Thomson has insights into the towing characteristics of the Xterra. (No, Andy does not use Hensleys exclusively - his store sold me an Eaz-Lift hitch that I'm very happy with.)

You might already be looking for an older half ton van, and I suspect you might get something reliable for about $3,000. However, you would then have another vehicle to license/insure/maintain - it might make more sense to do what's needed to make the Xterra work for you.

For what it's worth, your 4570 lb trailer is about 4800 lbs with awning and propane - 4570 is the shipping weight from the factory. It doesn't really matter - weight is not a real problem for you, ensuring stability is. At least I can assure that the Overlander should be a very nice handling, stable trailer, especially with new Henschen axles and shock absorbers.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:09 AM   #20
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For a 10,000lb Airstream combination 250HP is more than enough and considering it's power to weight ratio it is well up there compared to most other combinations on the roads today.

For the last 12 years we have towed with two smaller Nissan VQ, v6 engines a 3.0 and now a 3.5 V6. They have been on the Wards top 10 engines list for 15 years running being strong, dependable and reliable.

Like said before stability is the factor that needs to be addressed here. A towing specialist is required to get this combination safely on the road.
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Old 11-13-2008, 07:39 AM   #21
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The most important thing for you is the dogs have A/C in the rear when driving. So, a suburban would be nice but still command a good price used. I would go to Enterprise used car web site, search for a full sized Ford passenger van. Usually in 8 and 12 passenger versions with rear air. They are on the e350 chassis so you can pull anything within reason. It may not be as stylish but will be in the 15-18k range and more room than you can possibly imagine. I have seen some much cheaper in trader online as well. You might be able to keep the Nissan for everyday use if you look for an older version. Great values in used full size vans. Good luck.
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Old 11-13-2008, 03:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiHoAgRV View Post
I'm glad we didn't have the internet when I was 15 years old. I would have missed a lifetime of camping memories having been to afraid to tow dads popup camper down country roads with my short wheelbase Honda 90cc motorcycle...


I love that. That statement is so true.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:09 PM   #23
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Experience...

While I agree with everyone who says you will ultimately wind up with a bigger tow vehicle, I wouldn't let that stop me from learning. Here's what I'd do if I were you.

1. Remove everything you can out of the trailer. Take off the propane tanks, remove the batteries, empty the water, etc. Lighten it up as much as possible.

2. Remove everything extra from your XTerra.

3. Go for some test drives on sunny, dry days on forgiving roads. Find some gentle terrain and some hills. Learn how your vehicle responds, take note of engine temperature, practice stopping on different types of terrain, etc.

As you learn more about what it feels like to tow your particular trailer with your particular car, you will be in a better position to decide how much more tow vehicle you need, and what you are looking for in a tow vehicle. I wouldn't rush out to spend hard-earned money on a new tow vehicle until you learn what is less than satisfactory about your current setup.

Ever notice that a tractor-trailer rig is a small, short-wheelbase motor unit followed by a much longer, much heavier trailer? Wheelbase and relative weights are only some of the considerations.


In the days before diesel-dually pickups with long wheelbases became common, people used to tow 30+ foot travel trailers with a car or station wagon. Wheelbases on full-size sedans and wagons were generally less than 130 inches, though typically longer than 106 inches, and sedan weights didn't often exceed 4500lbs in the old days, and many were more like 4000lbs, except for the biggest luxury cars (Cadillacs, Lincolns, Imperials). I'm not saying that things were better or safer back then, I'm just putting some perspective on it.

Mike
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:18 PM   #24
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Marginal tow vehicle?

Hi, Laura. I personally wouldn't feel too good with your combination; But if you look at the newest issue of "Trailer Life" magazine, December 2008, they have an article and road test where they towed a North Country 29' [SOB] travel trailer with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 6,900 lbs with a Toyota 4Runner with a tow rating of 7,000 lbs. That's only a margin of 100 lbs.
My personal set-up is a Lincoln Navigator with a tow rating of 8,900 lbs and my trailer has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 6,300 lbs. This gives me a 2,600 lbs safety margin. The general rule of thumb seems to be the trailer should weigh 80% or less than the tow vehicle's tow rating.
Even with the so called perfect set-up, the most important factor is driver ability to handle what they have.
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Old 11-14-2008, 05:49 AM   #25
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somebody with alot of towing experience can tow a trailer with just about anything.but the experienced person will be able to assess the vehicles limitations and adjust the driving accordingly.as someone pointed out the high center of gravity on this vehicle is one of the limitations.in my opinion it is too easy for the "tail to wag the dog" with this combo resulting in a potential disaster.
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:26 AM   #26
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Really - thanks for all the replies and the time spent making suggestions to me. I have only owned the Xterra for about 8 months (thought it was 6 - seems so new) and after finding Ophelia, had the hitch, 7 way connector and brake controller installed. It hurts a bit to know I did that without understanding the situation. I have learned a lot since getting my AS and will revert back to my engineering type behavior in the future - research the crap out of something before acting.

I am preparing to look for a new vehicle to replace the Xterra. I haven't the space for a second vehicle - nor the time/patience/finances to care for two. Again - I'm not opposed to replacement --- but just feel that shopping for and purchasing a vehicle is about as painful as childbirth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdlWidget View Post
While I agree with everyone who says you will ultimately wind up with a bigger tow vehicle, I wouldn't let that stop me from learning. Here's what I'd do if I were you.

1. Remove everything you can out of the trailer. Take off the propane tanks, remove the batteries, empty the water, etc. Lighten it up as much as possible.

2. Remove everything extra from your XTerra.

3. Go for some test drives on sunny, dry days on forgiving roads. Find some gentle terrain and some hills. Learn how your vehicle responds, take note of engine temperature, practice stopping on different types of terrain, etc.

As you learn more about what it feels like to tow your particular trailer with your particular car, you will be in a better position to decide how much more tow vehicle you need, and what you are looking for in a tow vehicle. I wouldn't rush out to spend hard-earned money on a new tow vehicle until you learn what is less than satisfactory about your current setup.

Ever notice that a tractor-trailer rig is a small, short-wheelbase motor unit followed by a much longer, much heavier trailer? Wheelbase and relative weights are only some of the considerations.


In the days before diesel-dually pickups with long wheelbases became common, people used to tow 30+ foot travel trailers with a car or station wagon. Wheelbases on full-size sedans and wagons were generally less than 130 inches, though typically longer than 106 inches, and sedan weights didn't often exceed 4500lbs in the old days, and many were more like 4000lbs, except for the biggest luxury cars (Cadillacs, Lincolns, Imperials). I'm not saying that things were better or safer back then, I'm just putting some perspective on it.

Mike
Boy Mike - thanks for that!!! I was wondering about pulling the propane tanks, et.al. Hey - there aren't any hills in my area! Biggest thing I'll encounter is a bridge! Probably not the best place to practice???? I had planned a week-long stay with my family over Thanksgiving (100 miles south). After the initial responses, I told them I was canceling. But they're still pestering me to come and stay. I guess I could pull the items you mention - wouldn't need them for the campground - and drive 40-45 mph at an off-peak time. But I'll at least condense the trip so I can spend a few days looking at different TV options. Maybe I'll find a replacement before Thanksgiving!

Laura
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Old 11-17-2008, 12:47 PM   #27
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If you lighten up the front-end weight by removing tanks and batteries, be careful to make sure that the trailer doesn't become tail-heavy as a result. Tail-heaviness is what causes the worst sway conditions. See if you can remove or move things from the back of the trailer, behind the axle, to lighten up the back proportionately.

As you start to drive, pay close attention to what the back end of your TV feels like (and what the front end feels like too!). If you go over a rise or a bump and it feels like your TV backside seems to be rising up in the air more than usual, that's a cause for some concern. Ditto if the front end of your car seems to be rising up and the rear is diving down.

Make sure that the car/trailer/hitch assembly is level when you are on level ground...the hitch should be very close to the same height as it was before you hooked up the trailer, if you've adjusted the weight distribution bars.

Mike
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Old 11-17-2008, 03:07 PM   #28
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Laura, I notice you didn't mention the payload of the Nissan. If by "tongue" at 500 lbs. you mean payload, the Xterra is inadequate for 4 people (perhaps they would all have to be naked to save weight) and some groceries, so I think the payload must be more than that. You have to consider the weight of the gas, coolant, accessories, you, dogs, dog cage and anything else you put in the Nissan, and then the tongue weight. Depending on who you believe, some of the tongue weight will be transferred back to the trailer axle(s) by a weight distributing hitch, maybe 1/3. Do you have a weight distributing hitch receiver on the Nissan?—if so, it should transfer the rest of the tongue weight to front and back axles of the Nissan. Add all these weights (in the Xterra and tongue wt.) together and see if it equals, exceeds, or is less than the payload of the Nissan. For safety margins, it is recommended that all that weight be 80% of payload. Some companies include gas and coolant when calculating the payload and thus you don't have to add it in—check the owner's manual carefully. The info can be hard to find, or it may be on Nissan's website or you may have to contact them.

Figuring out all these various weight limits drove me crazy, but without an engineering background, it was probably harder for me than for you. In some thread on towing there are formulae posted by mechanical engineers to determine how weight is distributed. They made me giggle uncontrollably, but they'll probably be easy for you.

All this learning was difficult, but with plenty of research it gets better. Soon you'll be giving advice. And you'll find there are women on the Forum who know far more about all this than most of us guys. I had to sell my 2002 Tundra and was sad to let a perfectly good truck go, but didn't want the worries I would have using it though I suppose I could get away with it. You mentioned a Sequoia—the 1st run of Sequoias, through 2007, have somewhat lesser weight limits than 2008 and beyond, and a smaller engine. Either should be fine for your trailer, but there is a difference. We had a 2002 Sequoia for a couple of years and it was a fine SUV, super comfortable, used a great deal of gas, very heavy—more than 6,000 lbs.—build on the Tundra platform, and may have not had much payload. The 2008 Sequoias are built on the platform used on the 2007 Tundras and beyond but probably don't have as much payload as a pickup. That is probably true of any SUV built on a pickup platform because the body is heavier.

You can load or unload the trailer and know the actual tongue weight with a bathroom scale and a lever system—the newer Airstream manuals tell you how and maybe the older ones too. Some RV books tell how to do it too, though I think it's not too hard to figure it out, even for me with a liberal arts background. The tongue wt. Airstream states does not include full propane tanks and other stuff that were options at the time.

If you want to test it in the mountains, I recall there are "mountains" more than 200' high around Ocala. I hope you get to travel outside of Florida as there are many wonderful places to see.

Gene
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