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Old 08-02-2007, 06:48 PM   #1
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My family is trading in a car for a towing vehicle. We are dreaming of the day we can buy an older trailer, smaller (20 or less) that we can tow with our truck. Right now the Toyota Tacoma is advertising itself to be up to the task. The numbers are boggling my mind. The Tacoma we are looking at is rated to tow 3500 pounds- what small trailer is that, realistically? Please help us before we get the wrong truck!
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Old 08-02-2007, 06:55 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The Tacoma is a nice truck, but 3500# tow rating is not much. Using the generally accepted 80 percent rule, you would be sitting at a 2800# comfortable tow. There are not a lot of Airstreams in that weight class, especially when they are loaded to camp.
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:05 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizandella
My family is trading in a car for a towing vehicle. We are dreaming of the day we can buy an older trailer, smaller (20 or less) that we can tow with our truck. Right now the Toyota Tacoma is advertising itself to be up to the task. The numbers are boggling my mind. The Tacoma we are looking at is rated to tow 3500 pounds- what small trailer is that, realistically? Please help us before we get the wrong truck!
Hummm... a trailer with a riding lawn mower? Pop-up camper? SOB (short one, empty)?
3500lbs. is not much when you consider carrying people, supplies, fluids, trailer and maybe a big rock to sit on... ALWAYS check the weight of the trailer you want before buying a truck to tow it... and add pounds from there with the minimum of the above weights. Then look to see if the truck you want can tow it. Also, consider if you'll be traveling in hills/mountains... slow down too much on the incline and folks behind you might not be appreciating the scenery as much as y'all are... especially if you don't pull over after seeing 3 or more cars tailgating you... Bubba might be on his way with a six pack to see his girlfriend and you wouldn't be helping him any...
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Old 08-02-2007, 07:17 PM   #4
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Welcome to the Forums!

You're best bet would be a vintage...but even our '64 GlobeTrotter 19-footer is 3500 lbs when loaded for a trip - even though 2890 is it's supposed dry weight. Here is a chart that shows the dry, empty "no options" weights of some vintage trailers...plan on adding 600-1000 lbs of "stuff". Keep in mind, the tow weight for your truck also includes passengers & stuff in the truck, not just the trailer. That doesn't leave much (any?) wiggle room...

The older trailer models weigh less than newer ones the same length...but the older they are the more potential work they will need. There really is no such thing as too much tow vehicle...buy the most you can, you'll have more options for trailers size & options. Using 80-85% tow capacity is a good rule of thumb especially on an older TV which may not be as sharp or perfectly tuned as it once was when new.

Good luck in your search to fulfill your dream!

Shari
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:00 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by InsideOut
. . . There really is no such thing as too much tow vehicle...Shari
That's what I was told all my life . . . then time came to rebuild Spiffy. Got the surprise of my life when I removed the inside skin in the front sections and found all the rivets had vibrated loose - even the bolts holding the shell to the floor had worked loose! As for the outside skin - the PO had used vulkum trying to waterproof holes twice as big as the rivet heads! I had to replace all the rib supports and both the outside and inside skin.

Too much truck = undo vibration/shock to the TT. You can find all kinds of threads here about axle and tire selection that most likely would not exist if bigger/stronger really was better/ideal . . .

With Airstreams, balance is the objective.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:20 PM   #6
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Drive slower?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiffy Gem
That's what I was told all my life . . . then time came to rebuild Spiffy. Got the surprise of my life when I removed the inside skin in the front sections and found all the rivets had vibrated loose - even the bolts holding the shell to the floor had worked loose! As for the outside skin - the PO had used vulkum trying to waterproof holes twice as big as the rivet heads! I had to replace all the rib supports and both the outside and inside skin.

Too much truck = undo vibration/shock to the TT. You can find all kinds of threads here about axle and tire selection that most likely would not exist if bigger/stronger really was better/ideal . . .

With Airstreams, balance is the objective.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Good point, but I think I would rather rely on my ability to "take it easy" rather than have my truck dictate how much stress I can put on the vehicle/trailer combination. Of course that may be because I drive a 7.3 diesel. I think I will stick with overkill on power and remind myself to ease up on the bumps. I do agree with you on tires and axles. I have had the bad experience of too heavy axles and it only takes once(seeing it bouncing in the rear view mirror) to be a believer.
Your mileage may vary,
cheers, bill b.
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Old 08-02-2007, 08:33 PM   #7
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You must be looking at an older Tacoma to be rated at only 3500 lbs...we tow our 2006 19' Bambi with a 2007 Tacoma...rated at 6500 lbs with the factory tow package...but anythng bigger and, "Houston, we'd have a problem." Toyota has beefed up their trucks recently...thank goodness...as a Tundra won't fit in our garage! The Tacoma is performing quite nicely and that's even up and down some steep grades...we aren't going to win any races in those situations, of course, but we can keep up to the speed limit, which is the most any of us should be doing, anyway!

Good luck...and many Happy Trails...TB
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Old 08-02-2007, 11:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spiffy Gem
Too much truck = undo vibration/shock to the TT.

With Airstreams, balance is the objective.
True, too stiff of a suspension is not good...I was thinking more of towing capacity, power and being able to keep up with the flow of traffic rather than "barely making it" up a mountain.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bilby05
I think I would rather rely on my ability to "take it easy" rather than have my truck dictate how much stress I can put on the vehicle/trailer combination.
Me too! When we first got into Airstreaming, we towed with a Jeep Cherokee which was rated to tow 5000lbs...it didn't. We were miserable! We were so frustratd, we almost threw in the towel on Airstreaming completely...can you imagine that?! Just because you have the extra power, doesn't mean you have to use it all all the time...but if you don't have it and need it, there is nothing you can do.

Shari
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Old 08-03-2007, 08:25 AM   #9
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I know you want an Airstream, otherwise you wouldn't visit this forum! We just sold our little T@B trailer for a new/used 22ft International CCD. We towed the T@B with a Volvo Cross Country that had a tow capacity of 3300#. Since the T@b weighed less than 2000# we were well within a good range.

You might want to consider a bigger vehicle or another camper.

Mary
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Old 08-03-2007, 10:19 AM   #10
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You didn't say which Toyota Tacoma you are looking at! If it were a stripped down courier truck from about 1996 with a 4 cyl. engine, then it's a bad idea. If it's a new '07 with the largest engine, then I would say "go for it". One option is to get an '06 Tundra with a V8. It's just a bit bigger and from experience, I know it'd be up to the job.
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jaxon
... ALWAYS check the weight of the trailer you want before buying a truck to tow it... and add pounds from there with the minimum of the above weights. Then look to see if the truck you want can tow it. ...
And that is sound advice.

TV engineers are not going to design a truck with lots of engine power and inadequate 2nd and 3rd members (i.e. transmission and rear axle/suspension). If they did, the 2nd or 3rd members would be blown out (because they couldn’t handle the power) and someone would get killed.

The heavier duty springs, brake discs, etc. comes with the package, for use and safety.

The more power you get, the more stiffness in the springs. Some of us try to offset that by modifying the suspension and/or changing the shocks, but there is only so much that can be done to ‘soften’ the ride.

I live next to the mountains, and like most everyone else, want an adequate amount of power. After all, there is obvious danger with inadequately powered TVs. One really should determine the power they need, then go find a TV that balances or reasonably exceeds that power need. Please don’t go out and by a Mac truck to pull that Bambi (extreme here for visual purposes). As Coach Dan Hawkins said while here at Boise State, "Bigger is not better: better is better"; the two are not always the same.
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Old 08-03-2007, 06:58 PM   #12
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Thumbs up

You've been given some great advice and perspective so far. I can't really add more than that!
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Old 08-16-2007, 06:20 PM   #13
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International Harvester used to put out a nice little pamphlet about towing, and selecting the right rig for the job.

The main mantra of the little book was that you can get better towing handling by having more wheelbase on the TV, and a larger engine and associated transmission is always better than not enough.

I used to tow a SOB trailer that was a vintage unit like an Airstream with an IH Travelall. It was pure heaven to tow with, as the truck had lots of power, big brakes, and was a good truck just in general.

It never pounded the trailer, and I never had any loose rivets or screws.

I think the reason was two-fold.

I had good tires on both the truck and trailer, properly inflated, and balanced, and I also drove with a mind toward avoiding chuckholes and cruddy roads in general.

To me, more tow rig is always better. It makes it easier to drive, and you almost never get yourself into a situation where the truck limits you to the point of being on the edge of losing control.

-John
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Old 09-29-2007, 05:53 PM   #14
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Lizandella, you may have bought a truck by now, but if not, consider a used Tundra V8 from 2000 or so to mid-decade. They are pretty similar to the newer, larger Tacomas, if not identical. A well cared for Tundra from a couple of years ago may cost less than a new Tacoma. Toyota keeps making vehicles larger and larger and will probably come out with a truck the size of the older Tacomas some day…
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