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Old 07-18-2004, 08:10 PM   #1
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Cool Smaller Tow Vehicles

I am an Airstream wannabee but have a small van. The Airstream dealer in London, Ont has a different approach to calculating the capacity of tow vehicles other than just the listed weight rating. In fact of three tow vehicle/trailer combinations on the lot for test driving, only one is a truck. One is a Chrysler Intrepid with a 34' AS and the other is a Ford Freestar with a 28' box trailer.

The Freestar combination worked well in a short test which included a good sized hill, but I am wary of the effect over the longer term.

Are there any Canadians, or others, out there who have used this dealer's concept, and if so, what is your experience?

Any feedback would be welcome.

Thanks

John
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Old 07-18-2004, 08:30 PM   #2
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I would be wary even in the short term. Few here would suggest doing the Intrepid or similar for a 28-30' coach. There are folks mostly in Canada that do it. You can do a search here for tow vehicles and such and find a wealth of info on the subject as it has been covered in great detail here already.
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Old 07-18-2004, 09:19 PM   #3
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Old 07-18-2004, 09:21 PM   #4
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If you are talking about Can Am Andy, you have a good source. His Intrepid based rigs have received a lot of discussion from skeptics.

He does some mods in terms of suspension, wheels, and tires; uses a Hensley Arrow hitch (ugly orange thing with its own fanatics) and tests combinations quite thoroughly from what I can tell.

From what I have seen of his presentation of the issues I think he is much better informed than many of his skeptics.

But you should be able to do a test drive with any rig from Can Am and see for yourself how it fares. Ask questions and see what kind of answers you get.

[BTW, thanks for the link Maurice. Good information in that discussion.]
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Old 07-18-2004, 09:33 PM   #5
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Intrepid + 34' Airstream = Suicide
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Old 07-18-2004, 10:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armistjb
I am an Airstream wannabee but have a small van. The Airstream dealer in London, Ont has a different approach to calculating the capacity of tow vehicles other than just the listed weight rating. In fact of three tow vehicle/trailer combinations on the lot for test driving, only one is a truck. One is a Chrysler Intrepid with a 34' AS and the other is a Ford Freestar with a 28' box trailer.

The Freestar combination worked well in a short test which included a good sized hill, but I am wary of the effect over the longer term.

Are there any Canadians, or others, out there who have used this dealer's concept, and if so, what is your experience?

Any feedback would be welcome.

Thanks
I was at the airstream homecoming last month. I was working parking. We had a Jaguar come in from Ontario pulling a 34' airstream. Tail down, nose up, couldn't move off of pavement. Had to tow it with a tractor. I would hate to drive that rig on a windy day!

My brother had a Chevy minivan, 4.3liter,rearwheel drive. He insisted on pulling boats with it. It only cost him two rear ends and a driveshaft before he learned his lesson.

I just read trailer life's test on the truck 150's. I agree that most of us on here argue for too much rather than too little truck. My observation at the intl rally in Lansing was how many 31-34 airstreams are pulled by 150 pickups & suburbans.

Detroit keeps downgrading these vehicles every year. You have to buy a 2500 level truck to get a steel drive shaft & heavy rearend. GM uses a different level transmission between 1500 & 2500. They took 500 lbs out of the frame in year 2003 2500's trucks. Talk to repair shops about the quality of auto transmissions the last five years. They can't even size the pistons correctly in the big block engines.

I think you can pull with most any combination. It is strictly a pay me now or pay me later on wear and tear, assuming safety is not an issue. If I were not retired & traveling quite a bit, I would buy something like a Toyota Tundra with a high rear end ratio and bet that I could work it hard & get away with it.
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Old 07-18-2004, 10:48 PM   #7
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Moe I forgot this one:

"And Darwin said the process of natural selection wasn't perfect."

A classic.

As for this comment:

"From what I have seen of his presentation of the issues I think he is much better informed than many of his skeptics."

I will only say that the laws of physics are the biggest skeptics no matter if he makes his gear out of titanium, but I am not going to rehash all the info that is on the threads that are already out there.

In the end folks are ent to their opinions. I simply disagree to the core on the can/am issue...sorry.
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Old 07-19-2004, 09:14 AM   #8
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A small light coach like a 50's up to mid 60's anything 22ft and under I could see you getting away with it for a while with a good hitch and be reasonably safe. Basicly need to stay under 4k of trailer, passengers and cargo. Pretty tought to do with much of anything built from 1970 up.

Would I recomend it....no. See I just about got flipped by a little cargo trailer weighing about 2200lb behins a 1975 GMC Jimmy truck. I learned my lesson about tow vehicles matched for the load.

What to expect. accelerated wear of the transmission and drive line from the vehcile have to work at full bore. Forget themountains. Towing on the flat is one theing but once you get up to 10k elevation and loose a HUGE amount of power from lack of air....then you will understand why big motors rule for towing.

This is why I have a 454 powered 3/4 ton Suburban as a tow rig. Bigger brakes, Biggerand stonger axle, Stronger transmission and long wheel base.

See when we towed our 1959 22ft caravanner home we had to move it right away. We had the actual truck that was set up for it to move it but could not find the hitch. We only needed to move it about 30 miles. White knuckle ride the whole way. The 5.4 Ford van with 3.43 rear end was beyond it's limit with that coach and 3 adults in it. we had one good grade to pull and it was straing to keep 50mph with semis pulling it at 70.

My Suburban doesn't even notice it. I have trailer about 5600lb of truck on a car trailer behind it and set the crusie on 65. Worst hill along the way it only lost 2mph climbing it. That's what plenty of Torque and proper gearing will do for you.

I don't buy the Can am stuff either. While they can patch the handling problems they cannot fix the lack of power and undersized driveline compnenets.

Toss the HP rating out the window. You never drive the car where the HP is. HP is usualy close to redline. My sub is 230 hp at 4200 RPM. If that truck has seen 4200 rpm 10 times in the 1/5 years I have owned it I would be surprised.

What moves it is Torque. The lower RPM it comes on the better. Yeah 230hp doesn't seem like lot but that engine makes 385lbft of torque at 1600 RPM. That's what moves weight
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Old 07-19-2004, 11:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I will only say that the laws of physics are the biggest skeptics no matter if he makes his gear out of titanium, but I am not going to rehash all the info that is on the threads that are already out there.
It is the misuse, misunderstanding, and misaplication of "laws of physics" by many extremists in the towed rig handling issue that makes for an interesting study, I think.

Also interesting that an unlevel Jag was mentioned as an example. This is a completely irrelevant example as it is a hitch configuration and not a suitability issue. I have also seen a more complete description of this one or a similar event that tends to refute the conclusion offered. Even burbs get stuck in the mud

The fact is that Andy's presentation is much more solid on "laws of physics" grounds as well as logical and rationale grounds and on experience and test grounds than any of his antagonists by a clear margin. (he had quite a treatise on another forum that I am using for referent here)

I mean, look at this thread. Few of the antagonists are using rational argument but rather second or third hand anecdote, ideology (suicide!), diversion of issues, and ad hominem. These do not credit the conclusions offered very well.

Let's not dismiss someone else's experience just because it doesn't fit our mores. An appropriate caution coupled with a sound rationale might be much more profitable for all of us. There are things we all do not know but we will never learn them unless we are somewhat able to entertain new and novel ideas.

The issues with the tow rig include

1) will it handle the hitch load?

2) will it control the trailer yaw and provide safe handling?

3) will it provide sufficient power to accelerate from stop or up grade and maintain speed?

And, before any takes off on these, take a deep breath and think for a minute about the reasonableness expectation. The underlying assumption is that we are not talking extremes or exceptions but rather general conditions. We are not talking about off-roading or ski trips on ice covered roads, or mud slogging for instance.

Here are some of the factors involved in these three capabilities.

1) hitch load: GAWR, frame type, load leveling hitch, passenger load, fuel load.

2) control: hitch type (virtual pivot point), suspension, wheelbase, tires, trailer design, weight ratios.

3) power: engine, transmission, gearing, tires and wheels, GCWR, cooling systems,

And, as always, the more convinced we are about something the more careful we need to be with its rationale and support and the more aware of how it impacts and influences our ability to entertain new ideas.
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Old 07-19-2004, 11:13 AM   #10
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I couldn't disagree with you more Bryan. Sorry. I think it's a fools paridise out there looking for folks to try things that are less than safe.

Laws of physics 101:

Bigger heavier objects have more control over smaller lighter objects (30+ft Airstream or SOB with an Intrepid or mini-van).

This is no mis-application. This is a fact, plain and simple. I know some folks might not agree, but from where I'm sitting, I can't see a few bars or contraptions, no matter how well conceived changing the fact stated above. I see wind is not taken into your calculations, and it really should. I tow with an under rated vehicle that I modded very well, and still it has issues. It is equiv to a 1/2 pickup, yet still falls somewhat short towning a 25' 6300lb coach. You can't conv me that an Intrepid or minivan can do better with a fancy hitch system because I know what the forces of a 25' 6300lb coach can do to a vehicle as large as mine (5300lb Imapla SS), let alone a vehicle that is less robust.

Moreover, I can see that your tow vehicle is a Suburban. Any particular reason you chose that over an Intrepid?

BTW, this is all I am going to say on the subject, in fact I won't be really looking at this thread again...PM me if you'd like as I don't want to start this whole can am mess since it's been gone over in great detail already.
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:05 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
Laws of physics 101: Bigger heavier objects have more control over smaller lighter objects (30+ft Airstream or SOB with an Intrepid or mini-van).
might want to run this one by the sports car crowd and talk about air dams on the front and airfoils on the rear, too.

heavier objects have more mass, hence more interita, hence more difficulty in changing direction or speed, hence require larger forces to control, hence are more difficult to control (at least in terms of maneuvers).

A trailer needs very little force on the tongue to change its direction (it is designed this way) and its own brakes, tires, and suspension should be sufficient to control its braking and handling (it is designed this way).

If indeed a trailer gets put into an out of control situation (what should be an extreme or abnormal circumstance) it can indeed have traumatic impact on the tow vehicle. As we have seen in offerings on this thread, even a small trailer gone out of control can flip a heavier tow vehicle.

I do wish things were "plain and simple" but, as in many things in real life it doesn't seem to be so. Taking overly simplistic approaches to things often leaves out or dismisses some very interesting and viable alternatives and options.

Perhaps, though, these conversations could be more enjoyable if we avoided challenges and the ad hominem (I ran a 'burb for a while primarily because it was cheap and did the job, now I am using a B-Van and I also have experience with a number of sedans, an IH travelall, a lightweight van, a GMC Jimmy, and a few others).
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Leipper
It is the misuse, misunderstanding, and misaplication of "laws of physics" by many extremists in the towed rig handling issue that makes for an interesting study, I think.
Bryan,
I think that pretty much sums it up. Vehicle dynamics is a complex field that defies simplistic solutions. And if I hear someone quote the "Laws Of Physics" one more time I'm gonna quit reading this thread too!
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:38 PM   #13
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Tow Vehicle

We our looking for a tow vehicle for our 1988 Excella 32, we use it mostly as our weekend getaway at the Gulf of Mexico, it on a long term space. I wish I could afford a new 3/4 or 1 ton tow vehicle but its not in the budget right now. I would mainly want to take a couple weeks a year and go on vacation. The places we want to go ( Panhandle of Florida to New Orleans) are flat and less than 200 miles away. We are considering a Suburban 1500. They are resonably priced used in our area. 95% of the driving I would do with it would not incluse towing, but also like the ability to move the trailer in case of a hurricane. I know this is less than an ideal vehicle, but does anyone know of any simple modification (helper springs,ect..) that would make this feasable, and anyone have any experince with this type of setup.
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Old 07-19-2004, 01:43 PM   #14
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