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Old 12-18-2015, 10:45 AM   #15
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1972 25' Tradewind
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McHenry County , Illinois
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kscherzi pretty much nailed it.
My 2000 Eddie Bauer Expedition with the Tow Package easily handles the 25 foot Vintage Tradewind.
Some of the Expy 3rd row seats fold down into the floor, some come out completely. The second row folds flat to the floor. This gives you a bunch of space for all the camping stuff or room for dogs.


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Old 12-18-2015, 11:47 AM   #16
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2009 23' Flying Cloud
Colorado Springs , Colorado
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kscjerzi offers good advice. If you're set on Ford, stick with the 5.4l V8, eliminate the 4.6 from consideration. I got extremely lucky and found a low-mile 2003 F150 with the 5.4, 4wd, 4-door (for the dogs) and find it does a good job with my 23' Airstream, even in the mountains.

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Old 12-18-2015, 12:48 PM   #17
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2010 20' Flying Cloud
Hailey , Idaho
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Since you mentioned not fitting in a truck how about a gently used Yukon or Tahoe. My '05 Yukon (with 200k miles) still pulls 5,000lbs with no problems, they look beautiful, and a 10 yr old Yukon/Tahoe can be had for around $7k. look into those maybe. jon
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:12 PM   #18
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2007 25' Safari
Attleboro , Massachusetts
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I believe you can find tow ratings for older vehicles on Trailer Life website...
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:14 PM   #19
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2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
Join Date: Jan 2009
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Now don't rule a 4x4 tow vehicle out of the picture just yet. They are still very valuable tow vehicles. The comments pertained to the GVW simply being reduced a little due to the weight of the 4x4 components. It's probably in the neighborhood of 800-1000# or so. If you are careful with your load management there should be no problem staying within the specs. If you intend to stay in improved campgrounds & RV parks you can get away without a 4x4 vehicle but I can't. Too many times I've found myself on soft ground, wet grass etc. and with even a slight incline find myself slippin & sliddin. Then again there's the issue of living in the NE. The white stuff. Good luck with your search.

See ya on the road sometime.
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Old 12-18-2015, 01:47 PM   #20
2006 34' Classic
Fort Worth , Texas
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The main reason I buy 4X4 is for off all pavement use. This includes parking lots and campgrounds. Using 4X4 off pavement keeps flying gravel and rocks at bay. I also recommend Enkay Mud Flaps. I went to Alaska and back with no dings on the Airstream SS rock guards. Saves repair money.
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Old 12-18-2015, 02:11 PM   #21
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
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Two things to watch out for.

1. Be sure you are looking at the GVWR of the trailer and not the dry weight. Particularly with airstreams the dry weight, also called the shipping weight, is optimistically low and does not include the weight of any accessories, propane, water or anything in your holding tanks.

2. In that vintage Ford, anything you put in the truck subtracts from the towing capability. So add up the weight of the passengers, dogs, luggage, other cargo, and add that to the GVWR of the trailer. To be conservative, add 20%. That is a conservative recommendation for the towing capacity needed for a tow vehicle. Other specs you should be tracking is the tow vehicles hitch tongue weight and towing capacity. A good range for the hitch tongue weight rating is to take 10-15% of the trailer GVWR.

2006 F-150 Laredo 4x4 with the 5.4L V8 and 3.73 gears (bigger number is better for towing, worse for MPG)
Payload 1242#
Maximum Trailer 8600#
Trailer hitch tongue weight speciffication (with a weight distribution hitch) - 1000#
Trailer hitch tow capacity (with a weight distribution hitch) 10,000#

2001 Safari 25 GVWR - 6300#
Tongue weight estimate - 12% of 6300# = 756#

So, lets say I put two people, three dogs, some cargo in the truck totalling 400#
Add the tongue weight 756+400 = 1156. Compared to 1242# payload spec. This is close, but it worked out OK.

Now I take the 1156# and subtract that from the maximum trailer
8600# - 1156# = 7444# towable
So I have margin over the 6300# trailer GVWR. But it gets better because the truck is carrying, not towing, the tongue weight, subtract that from the GVWR and the truck is towing 6300 - 756 = 5544#.

While that is a lot of apparent margin, it's only an estimate because while my truck did fine on the flat it didn't like a 6-mile long 8% grade in NC. Now I have a 3/4T diesel that tows the trailer like it's not back there.

So, you pay your money and you take your choice....


"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
2002 Classic 30 Slideout
2001 Safari 25 RB Twin (Gone, but not forgotten)
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Old 12-18-2015, 04:07 PM   #22
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1973 31' Sovereign
Middletown , California
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 271
4 wheel drive with a low range transfer case can be very handy for parking a trailer on a hilly or not so grippe surface, I would prefer to have it for sure. You should have no problem getting a suitable Expedition or Suburban type vehicle to suit your needs. Read up on what makes up tow ratings, Airstreams were designed to be towed by good old full size American cars, not even trucks. Rear end gearing and springs are mainly what makes a tow vehicle. There are lots of other details that help also and trailer towing is not a cheap thing in general. Good brakes are nice and most people would recommend that the trailer not outweigh the tow vehicle by much so the "tail won't wag the dog". You have to think through whatever compromises you need to make when putting together a tow combination. Leland
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Old 12-18-2015, 05:28 PM   #23
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1973 27' Overlander
Sparks , Nevada
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Originally Posted by starstruck08 View Post
See a cute red 1999 Ford F-150 - 2000 lb towing capacity
ADORABLE mint green 1998 Ford Expedition - 4000 lb towing capacity

WHY. And the towing capacities for a lot of the makes and models change from year to year, I had to make a spreadsheet of all of them to keep track.
Why? Because they have different size engines, on different platforms, different options (esp tow packages). And just because it has a hitch does not mean it has a tow package.

Originally Posted by starstruck08 View Post
I'm trying to get something that tows at least 5k lbs because I don't know how heavy my trailer is going to be until I get it.
Check trailer weights again - what is usually quoted is DRY weight (no appliance, etc) and doesn't include what you pack inside. It's amazing how quickly the weight of "stuff" adds up. I believe my '73 27' Overlander was just under 7,000 lbs fully packed.

And the the weight of what you put in your truck (more "stuff", people, fuel, dogs) needs to be factored into your vehicle capacity. It's actually paylaod capacity, but for ease of calculating, consider it something to include as total weight (tow capacity). Someone will point out the differences between this but, to simplify things, you need to consider these added weights.

Originally Posted by starstruck08 View Post
I'm trying to find something that runs on gas and is a V8, has a backseat for the dog/friends, can tow at least 5k, and is safe and reliable and easy to drive (because I am 5 ft tall, trucks are not made for me AT ALL). Suggestions?
I towed my 27' with an Xterra all over FL without any problem. But, I took it SLOW on the highway. If the truck doesn't weigh more than the trailer, you could end up with the trailer pushing the truck right on down the road when TRYING to make an emergency stop. The Xterra was great - 6cyl - plenty of power to move my trailer around and keep the dogs comfortable in the back. But it woulda never made it over the mountains when I took a job out west.

Good luck to you - all this crap is confusing - I've been through it too many times. After you get the truck/trailer you'll have more fun researching the right tires, converters, LED lighting, caulking, etc. The research and confusion never ends.....

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Old 12-18-2015, 05:39 PM   #24
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1990 29' Excella
Stone Mountain , Georgia
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 156
Originally Posted by starstruck08 View Post
I mean, that was the idea behind getting something that can tow at least 5-6k. Because the absolute largest trailer I would get would be 29 ft, and the ones from that era are all under 6k. My preference is also for a 10 year old truck. 15 years is my max.

I left all trucks/suvs off my excel sheet that didn't hit at least that number. 1998 Expedition is not on that list. 1999 is the earliest I can go for that model because it jumps from 4k to 6k towing power. I love that paint job but I'm not going to settle for less towing power just because it's pretty.
I tow a 1990 29' AS with a 1999 Suburban 4x4 3/4ton and 7.4L gas engine and 3.73 axle ratios. It works great. Bought it new, and have diligently kept it up. It has 148k miles and runs terrific, but I have spent the money to keep it in top condition. When you buy used you just don't really know how it has been kept up.

Top of the line SLT Suburbans of the late 1990s can come with many creature comforts. Most importantly to me is the engine runs really well, and has 410 foot-pounds of torque at fairly low rpm, and has a fairly flat torque curve. Still, if you are shopping for a 16 YO vehicle of unknown upkeep, you may be buying yourself more money and time in the repair garage than down the road AS time. I'm not selling my Suburban until I hit 225K if I can help it. And having a 4x4 as a tow vehicle with shift on the fly is fantastic in case things get squirrelly, or your campsite turns into a mud bog during unexpected downpours.

Pick your AS first, then shop for a TV that can do the job, and stay within a 2-8 year old range, unless you are a mechanic and have your own lift.

2016 GMC Sierra Crew Cab 2500 HD 4x4
6.6L Duramax + Allison, 3.73 axles
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Old 12-19-2015, 04:06 AM   #25
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1978 31' Sovereign
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 17
"I'm trusting the Craigslist listers to not be lying to me, honestly?"

that was sarcasm, right? I just came to Pompano Beach from SoCal for a "winter in Miami" thing- I drove my (rare) '85 Toyota 4x4 long bed "BOV" along I 10. Good for adventure, not so good for day to day and beach cruising (No A/C!)
So I spent the last couple weeks looking for a car to drive for the next 3 months. I found that most private party ads on CL are dealers (shady characters using PP ads to save a few bucks and snare the unwary who chose to search PP because they don't wanna deal with shady characters. Trust issues? You bet!)
I'm pretty good at buying and selling vehicles, Ive been doing it for years with a mechanic's knowledge and experience. I'm also kind of a "car whisperer". I just have a thing for 4 wheels (or 6 if you're rollin' a duelie).
But - It's amazing what passes for used vehicles down here! And what people say - Get as close as you can to selecting a vehicle(s) that fits your criteria. If you have a good friend that's an honest mechanic, have them check it out with you. If you don't, feel free to PM me.
One thing I don't deal with in Cali - RUST! Know where to look! What marque has the best rust prevention?
I thought LA folks were shady, but holy cow! I met some real cases on my vehicle search.
The result? I got a great car, an '03, clean, straight, cold a/c, a V6 that jumps, leather and full power everything for $1000- something I can sell quickly when I go back (and I am going back- I live in a 31' AS on the South Fork of the Kaweah part time) but I had to go through some shady characters and cars that "looked pretty" but were seriously abused (normal non-car folks wouldn't notice 'til too late) to accomplish that mission. So I am very budget conscious (knowledge is $$)
For what you would end up spending in gas on the older vehicle, can you get a new truck (with a warranty) that gets better MPG? maybe the difference will pencil out. Anybody have thoughts on that? Monthly payment vs gas $$ savings?

And maybe someone on the forums just happens to have a proven reliable TV to fit your budget (don't rule out pickups. They have adjustable seats, too!) because they just bought a new TV?

Or, like the man said, you might wanna put the cart before the horse on this one - that is, get your DreamStream first then figure out how much TV you need to safely pull it - if you'll be renovating that will give you plenty o' time to shop around :-)
hope this helps!
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Old 12-19-2015, 11:23 PM   #26
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1973 31' Sovereign
Middletown , California
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 271
SouthForkAS brought up what might be a good idea. Keep your eye on this forum and other trailer life forums for somebody who is selling either a tow vehicle or maybe even a TV and trailer combination because they are giving up traveling. Possibly even put the word out on the forums. Actually, I've heard that Florida is a good place to buy such combinations because older retirees retire from traveling after moving down there. Another thing is driving a small high MPG vehicle around until you are ready to hit the road can put gas money savings into your travel fund. I would also like to hear if anybody has penciled out if you could save money by making payments on a newer more fuel efficient tow vehicle. I don't think it would work out but you can sink a lot of money into old trucks. Leland
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:42 AM   #27
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2014 25' Flying Cloud
Box Elder , South Dakota
Join Date: Feb 2014
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If you can get to Charlotte, NC today with $6000, I will sell you my 2003 Suburban before I trade it in tomorrow. Oldie but a goodie. Only trading it off in order to get a diesel.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:31 PM   #28
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1978 31' Sovereign
Los Angeles , California
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Posts: 17
one mo thang... shopping for any vehicle, to get a more accurate idea of value, ya gotta know the details. what year make and model (exactly), mileage? v6, v8, gas or diesel? Factory tow package? Manual? Automatic? Condition? Stereo, alloy wheels, leather AC and other options (some of these are standard on some models)
Then, armed with this info, go to
New Car Prices and Used Car Book Values - NADAguides
most dealers price off that (approximately)

This should fill a spreadsheet nicely :-)
knowledge is $$

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