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Old 06-24-2016, 12:10 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
2016 30' Flying Cloud
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 17
Soon to own FC 30, & need comfort above all else

Hey everybody!! I've been lurking for a while but this is my first post. My DH and I are about to pull the trigger on a Flying Cloud 30'. It's our first RV/TT and I can't wait to join the club!

I know the tow vehicle question is an endless debate but I have a very specific need/question and would love to hear your opinions...

The decisive factor is medical: I have a connective tissue disorder. I'm 32 and last year I dislocated both hips and both arms (at the ball socket). My neck and spine are also really sensitive. And, bonus, I've got super hearing so noise fatigue is an issue. Basically I'm a special little snowflake.

Life is short though and we love to travel, so we're going straight to the 30 because it will be the most comfortable for me.

We need a TV that will be comfortable, too. I need good support, a smooth ride, and QUIET.

And the least stress possible. Not to get the absolute best deal or best mileage.

It seems like we could sneak in under the wire with a 1500 like the GMC Sierra with the Max Towing Package.

But it would be at the edge, wouldn't it? DH and I are not light people. There wouldn't be a lot of wiggle room in the numbers. The 30 is awfully big/heavy.

If our goal is to minimize stress… should we go straight to a 2500 / 3/4?

And, secondly: Which truck (1500 or 2500) do you think is the most ergonomic, smooth, and quiet?

For the record, our daily driver is a VW GTI and the seats etc. are great but the low seat height does a number on my knees after a while and sometimes bending over to get in hurts like a ****. We've never had a big car much less a truck so I'm looking forward to the more upright position!

Thanks in advance, you guys!

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Old 06-24-2016, 12:33 AM   #2
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1991 25' Excella
Stanfield , Oregon
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Go straight for a 3/4 ton and since comfort is critical I would look into a gmc with a duramax

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Old 06-24-2016, 12:38 AM   #3
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2005 25' Safari
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Welcome to the forum.

Hi, for this size trailer, you really should have a 2500 series truck. I would think that one with a gas engine, versus a diesel would be lighter and possible ride smoother. You want one with enough payload to handle the trailer, people, and your cargo, but not so high that it will be too stiff. You also might consider an Air Safe hitch to help make the ride smoother.

2005 Safari 25-B
"Le Petit Chateau Argent"
[ Small Silver Castle ]
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Old 06-24-2016, 04:44 AM   #4
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2015 22' FB Sport
Kansas City , Missouri
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Congrats on embracing the AS lifestyle and getting out there to enjoy life.

Here are a few points for you to consider as you evaluate tow vehicles.

Tires-See what you can learn about tire options for your tow vehicle. Some tires are engineered for great "grip" in 4WD, some are engineered for a smoother passenger hi way ride experience. Do not be afraid to change tires on a new truck, sell the stock tires, and get what will be most comfortable.

Hitching up-whoever in your party is going to be responsible for doing the hitching should feel comfortable lifting and installing all parts needed alone without help. One thing that came to mind is a little gizmo called a hitch grip that is designed to make it easier to slide the hitch into the slot on the back of the tow vehicle. Google it. Available on Amazon or camping world.

And with a rig that size I would definitely want a pivot hitch like Hensley or Pro Pride.

Bed Cover. If you can, consider getting a bed cover on your truck so that gear traveling with you can remain in the bed and be secured and stay dry. We don't have one (for other reasons) and this means that if we need to secure items we are lugging them into the back seat of the truck to lock them up or get them out of the weather.

Gas/diesel. Do you have any sensitivity to smells? If so, that might rule out diesel. For me it is a trigger for nausea. If not, then you may need to ride in each and see how you feel in each. Different engines do have different sounds (pitch and tone) and sound levels.

Running boards and handles. Do pay attention to different options for running boards which make getting in and out easier. And different vehicles have grab assist handles at different spots. Pay attention to those too.

Gas tank size. Fewer pit stops to refuel = fewer stresses on getting out, pumping, negotiating the gas station.

Piggy Bank
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Old 06-24-2016, 05:36 AM   #5
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Considering your physical requirements in seating, I would reconsider any Airstream with bench style seating. They are little more than flat plywood benches with cushions to sit on.

Presently only the Classic 30 has a genuine sofa to sit on, with reclining features. Several late model Airstreams from 23 up had sofas, and they recently made a 30 with recliners. We converted ours to recliners, but that option is very dependent on what equipment is located under the bench seating, such as furnaces, water heaters, and electrical converters.

Then take another look at tow vehicles. Some are very high to get into and ride like lumber wagons.
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

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Old 06-24-2016, 06:57 AM   #6
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2014 30' Flying Cloud
Tampa , Florida
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We recently drove our FC30 down from New Jersey to FL using my Cadillac Escalade. I don't think you can get smoother than that. The ride up was done in two days, about 8-9 hours per day, and I can't imagine that drive in my previous TV (Ford F150). The drive down was over 5 days and it was comfortable.

The Escalade has the 6.2 engine, can tow 8200 lbs and has a 1600 lb payload. It is very smooth and quiet inside.
2014 Airstream Flying Cloud 30 Recliner - WBCCI #4850 - AIR #110821
2013 Cadillac Escalade Tow Vehicle, Equal-i-zer Hitch
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Old 06-24-2016, 07:25 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
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All good info here.

Any way you could rent or borrow vehicles on your short list for a week or so?

You can't get a good "feel" for the ride on only a test drive.

You may consider joining the WBCCI at this point. Lots of bad press here on the Walley-Bangers, but you MAY be able to test ride in a few setups similar to what you contemplate investing in.

In all instances, give yourself plenty of safety room in the area of max load on the rear axle (the weight limitation that is usually the first to bust). The "normal" recommended safety factor in use when these forums were first initiated was 10% - I see no reason to deviate from that number.

Most people who actually weigh report a tongue weight of at least 250 lbs. above the numbers that Airstream throws out. Airstream does not include options, propane, water, hitches, and your miscellaneous loads. High end hitches (worth their weight in gold) will add about 200 lbs, and the weight of "stuff"' carried in the bed of the tow vehicle is remarkable. You really do not know until you weigh. Another good reason to search out a WBCCI unit that may be of help to you,

Good travels, and be safe, please post questions or PM those here on the forums you may trust to give you honest answers.

Do NOT trust any answers given to you by salesmen or relatively inexperienced campers. No sense in reinventing the wheel.

Having owned both an Airstream travel trailer and an Airstream Motor Home, I can say the Motor Home is definitely easier on the body and more comfortable to camp in. MoHo's are also far easier to set up once you hit your destination - at least in my experience.

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

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Old 06-24-2016, 09:23 AM   #8
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2016 30' Flying Cloud
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 17
Thank you all, this is extremely helpful!
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:42 AM   #9
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2016 30' Flying Cloud
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Considering your physical requirements in seating, I would reconsider any Airstream with bench style seating. They are little more than flat plywood benches with cushions to sit on.
dkottum, thanks, yeah, I noticed that. The dual reclining sofa in the Classic is very tempting but it's $57k more than the Flying Cloud, and it doesn't have the sleek MCM interior we love.

We first saw a vintage 30 that had a single sofa and 2 swivel chairs which was the PERFECT layout, but it lacked too many of the features (e.g AC).

So my plan is:

1. Replace stock mattresses with high end memory foam, cut to shape

2. Put new, high density upholstery foam in the sofa cushions for the short term (read about this here on AF!).

3. Later, renovate the seating in the lounge area to reduce sofa area and add a recliner. Like you But only 1 recliner is really needed (DH has no issues sitting on a plywood box for hours).

The FC we are getting is a 2016. Is there anyone I can talk to, to find out if the mechanicals etc would get in the way? Did you have issues?

A box RV would certainly be easier... but they don't have that "Ahhhh, welcome home" feeling.
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Old 06-24-2016, 09:58 AM   #10
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2014 30' Flying Cloud
Tampa , Florida
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 723
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That's why we specifically waited to get a 2014 with recliner option. I've seen some conversions done, but they are certainly something I wouldn't do myself. Good luck!
2014 Airstream Flying Cloud 30 Recliner - WBCCI #4850 - AIR #110821
2013 Cadillac Escalade Tow Vehicle, Equal-i-zer Hitch
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Old 06-24-2016, 10:06 AM   #11
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2016 30' Flying Cloud
Philadelphia , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 17
Originally Posted by Piggy Bank View Post
Congrats on embracing the AS lifestyle and getting out there to enjoy life.
Piggy Bank, thank you for the awesome checklist! I will be printing it out and keeping it handy. Your points about running boards, gas tank size, and solo hitching were especially helpful. Like, you mean trucks don't just COME with running boards? I'm especially glad you pointed this out because I didn't know.

87mph, I'm looking into WBCCI now and thank you for the extra info on tongue weight. Given the Max Trailering packages for e.g. the Sierra 1500 still only offer a ~2000lb cargo capacity, with an 8800 GVW trailer, that seems like the cargo capacity margin is just too thin and so that's pretty decisive... need a 3/4 ton to be stress-free.

I called my real estate agent from last year and asked what truck he had. We spent 3-4 hours in it and it was very comfortable. It was a Denali.

So, thanks to your recommendations, we're scheduling test drives in 2500 Denali with Duramax and gas, along with the Ford F250 and Ram.

Thank you all again. It's nice to be backed up by the voices of experience. We spent HOURS running in circles over the past couple days trying to hunt down max towing capacity, tow packages, calculate tongue weight, guestimate how much crap we'd be hauling, etc. Ugh, I'm a computer programmer... I work with complexity every day... and trucks are too damn complicated!
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Old 06-24-2016, 10:26 AM   #12
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2015 23' International
2013 25' FB International
Apache Junction , Arizona
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The smoothest running of the Big 3 diesel engines is the Cummins straight six in the Ram 2500/3500. That is the inherent nature of a straight six. We drive V6 diesel powered Mercedes (2007 ML320 CDI and a 2009 E320 CDI sedan) and the Cummins is smoother than those two engines and nearly as quiet. There is no valve clatter like on the V8s.

Unfortunately, all the newer diesel engines also require the DEF fluid to be added to a separate tank for emissions control. None of our diesels require DEF as they are older.

We see 12- 13.5 mpg towing the 9,200 pound Classic behind our 2012 Ram at max speeds of 65mph or lower posted. We see 18-19 not towing. The Mercedes ML320 CDI gets 28 mpg on the highway and 16 - 18 towing (on the flats) the 2015 23D International Serenity that weighs 6,068 pounds camping ready. It will drop to 11/12 getting out of Salt River Canyon with 6% grades up and down for about 15 miles.
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TV - 2012 Dodge 2500 4x4 Cummins HO, automatic, Centramatics, Kelderman level ride airbag suspension, bed shell

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Old 06-24-2016, 10:37 AM   #13
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Western WA , Washington
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If you go with a 3/4 ton truck as your TV, you might also want to consider a cap for the bed vs. a basic cover, as that gives you more weather protected, relatively secure storage than you'd get with a flat bed cover.

For comfort and lower noise you may want to consider a nicely equipped Silverado HD 2500 or GMC Sierra 2500 with a gas engine and a max tow package. Unless you plan to do off-roading you should probably skip the Z71 suspension because it generates a harsher ride.

Not quite sure why, but Consumer Reports has a surprisingly low opinion of the reliability for the RAM 2500. OTOH, we have a RAM 1500 and have been very happy with it for our 27FB.

Best of luck and happy trails!
Rocinante is our 2014 International Signature 27FB
(Named for John Steinbeck's camper from "Travels With Charley")

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Old 06-24-2016, 12:02 PM   #14
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2014 25' FB Flying Cloud
Micanopy , Florida
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 10
On the p/u side of things, I have found " more money ...better ride" As I understand it with GMC or Chev , with the Denali or LTZ, high country package,the vehicles are set up to ride on the "soft" first or second spring when unloaded giving the ride of Cadillac. As weight increases more springs come into play in order to carry said weight and the ride stiffens up a bit.
Last Chev Duramax I had was 3500 dually. Actually rode better empty than the 1500 Sierra I now have. Good Luck

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