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Old 09-01-2012, 07:15 PM   #1
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Tow guide in last issue of AS Life (Fall 2012)

I was intrigued by the tow guide of the last issue of AS Life (p26) Im looking for a back up tow vehicle for our 1973' AS Ambassador 29'. I noticed they were using an Impala for a 25 & 30 AS in there guide with pics.

An ad on page 3 shows a Dodge/Chrysler Mini-Van towing a double axle AS & a Chrysler 300 towing a tri-axle AS.

Anyway does anyone think any Mini-Van could serve back up duty for my 73' AS?

(Our current tow rig is a 2001 Suburban 5.3 V8 with a factory tow package & various tranny & rear axle upgrades)
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Old 09-01-2012, 07:43 PM   #2
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Andrew T specialises in setting up tow vehicles and is particularly adept at matching smaller cars, SUVs and Minivans with Airstream trailers.

His article in the Fall edition of Airstream Life was about wheelbase and rear overhang as a percentage of the wheelbase. In a nutshell he was saying that the wheelbase figure on its own is not an indicator of a stable tow vehicle, but that overhang as a percentage of that wheelbase was more important. It makes sense because the hitch is a lever on the rear of TV and the further from the back axle your loaded ball is, the more leverage, and therefore force, will be applied to that rear axle.

He uses that principle, among others, to set up a whole range of tow vehicles that you might not think were up to the task. There are plenty of trailer folk think Andrew T is crazy and is setting unwary customers up with dangerous and even illegal combinations, all in the pursuit of sales. As a customer of his I can tell you this is just not the case.

In answer to your original question, and in support of Andrew T's assertions regarding towing dynamics, we tow a 2011 28' International with a Toyota V6 3.5l Sienna Minivan, set up by Andrew T. The minivan itself has been fitted with a transmission oil cooler and a Tekonsha P2 brake controller. It has an OEM hitch receiver by "Hidden Hitch" although that has been substantially modified with additional steel that not only stiffens the device but helps transfer weight (via the weight distribution system) to both axles of the tow vehicle and the axles of the trailer. The weight distribution system is a simple EAZ-Lift 1000lb bar and chain set up and is supplemented by two friction anti-sway bars. The tow vehicle is pretty stable without the trailer but its low and wide stance, six-speed transmission, semi-independent rear suspension good wheelbase to overhang ratio make it an excellent tow vehicle when hitched up. It starts and stops perfectly adequately (curiously it stops shorter when hitched than when not), tracks straight and true and I can honestly say that I've noticed no sway at all. The huge advantage, of course, is that I have a family sized car that returns nearly 30mpg when unhitched. Certainly we won't win any races going up hill but the time we lose there is always made up for by not stopping at gas stations.

So, could you use a minivan to tow? With advice and assistance from Andrew T, quite probably!
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L911 View Post
I was intrigued by the tow guide of the last issue of AS Life (p26) Im looking for a back up tow vehicle for our 1973' AS Ambassador 29'. I noticed they were using an Impala for a 25 & 30 AS in there guide with pics.

An ad on page 3 shows a Dodge/Chrysler Mini-Van towing a double axle AS & a Chrysler 300 towing a tri-axle AS.

Anyway does anyone think any Mini-Van could serve back up duty for my 73' AS?

(Our current tow rig is a 2001 Suburban 5.3 V8 with a factory tow package & various tranny & rear axle upgrades)
Use the HONDA Odyssey as baseline for comparisons. The "minivans" are fairly substantial vehicles nowadays and your A/S was designed to be towed by a car. As always, search for comments here by Andrew_T on the subject.

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Old 10-24-2012, 09:59 PM   #4
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Uh, I think nowadays the tow rating of the tow vehicle will be the limiting number- if your Odyssey will tow 3500 and the 29' AS weighs more, you're way overloaded. As mentioned in other posts, there is a legal issue, if there is an accident and you're found to be overloading your tow vehicle you're up a creek.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:15 PM   #5
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What legal issue? There isn't one.
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Old 10-24-2012, 10:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Globie64 View Post
Uh, I think nowadays the tow rating of the tow vehicle will be the limiting number- if your Odyssey will tow 3500 and the 29' AS weighs more, you're way overloaded. As mentioned in other posts, there is a legal issue, if there is an accident and you're found to be overloading your tow vehicle you're up a creek.
Globie I don't believe there is a legal issue here at all. Can you quote any actual event to back up that claim?

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Old 10-25-2012, 02:07 AM   #7
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Without spending too much time, I found these articles. They prompt you to look into liability issues in your own state, and honestly, it's pretty much common sense, if your vehicle is rated to tow 4000 pounds, you tow 7000, lose control and get in an accident, you could be considered negligent. It's late and I can't call my broker, but I'm curious. I had wanted to set up my Dart GT convertible to tow my Globetrotter. The Dart is rated at 2000 tow limit, and the Globetrotter is 2890 dry, originally.

TRAILER TOWING ILLEGALLY

and from KOA, see 11.

50 Tips for Better RVing - RV Information (RV Travel Tips)

I couldn't find definitive information on the CHP site, and found lots of anecdotal information about specific accidents. It appears that rule vary from state to state. Another resource is

RV Safety Tip #4 | RV Safety.com

As I said, I'm curious and I'll see what I can find from the CHP or insurance. I was involved in an accident earlier this year, where an elderly driver pulled out in front of me while I was going 45mph, and I T-boned her, totally both cars. She was found to be entirely at fault, and I'm kind of amped up about responsibility and negligence as a result.
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Old 10-25-2012, 02:09 AM   #8
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This too: Ratings and Terms, "RATINGS are LIMITS established by the manufacturer, which are not to be exceeded. Ratings are based on structural strength, drive train strength, braking power, stability, controllability, and performance. Exceeding a rating invites unsafe conditions, potential damage, may void a warranty, may complicate an insurance claim, and in some cases, may violate a law."

Definitions and Terms | RV Safety.com
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Old 10-25-2012, 06:58 AM   #9
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Globie, there is only an opinion of a writer here, not an actual event. This sort of thing is repeated among other internet claims and magazine articles with no basis in fact. It is too often used to get an edge in an argument about "proper" tow vehicles as though that settles the matter, but never backed up.

No doubt someone will spend the time to try to support this so go for it, we would like to see it.

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Old 10-25-2012, 07:06 AM   #10
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Globie,

In terms of legality, please check state and provincial laws regarding towing by non-commercial vehicles. There are none that refer to the manufacturers' tow rating - it's a nebulous figure, not backed by engineering or scientific methodology and therefore would not stand up in a court - hence no laws.

For the same reason, it would be hard to apportion liability with a tow rating that isn't backed up with full supporting technical data from the manufacturer, especially as any modification to the tow vehicle or hitch to aid towing would constitute "properly equipping the vehicle to tow" - your first link mentions this in its first paragraph. As you know, towing is about so much more than a simple weight measurement so to prove liability using such an ill defined figure would be difficult.

I grant you that other limits such as Gross Vehicle, Gross Axle and Tire Ratings are better defined and certainly measurable, but if my TV/Trailer set up is typical of these 'over tow rating' combinations then none of these ratings are actually exceeded anyway.

Of course, you don't mention other liability issues such as correct hitch rigging, or application of the local speed limit, or any number of other factors that can contribute to an accident and can affect the liability. There are people on this forum who will happily tell you that they regularly exceed the speed limit when towing when that is something infinitely more measurable, therefore much easier to prove, in any case to settle liability. It's these things that will affect liability, not exceeding tow ratings. If this line of reasoning needs backing up then please direct me to the lines of lawyers winning liability cases, or getting prosecutions, for exceeding the tow ratings because I don't believe they exist.
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:22 AM   #11
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In theory you MIGHT be liable, but let's face it: The insurance companies don't want to deal with litigation. They assign some blame, pay each other, and move on.
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:47 AM   #12
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I believe the only LAWS regarding towing have to do with licensing the trailer, (in some states) inspecting the trailer, required lights, overall length/width of the tow vehicle/trailer combination, required trailer brakes, and whether tandem trailers are allowed.

Your insurance company may have something to say if you exceed manufacturer's recommended loads. Your mechanic may, too, when you break something. And if you get in an accident, you may be setting yourself up for liability in a civil lawsuit that you wouldn't otherwise have.

However, there is one important point to consider regarding manufacturer's recommendations: They apply to the stock vehicle, as it came off the assembly line. Add a transmission oil cooler, different gearing in the differential and/or transmission and/or transfer case, different springs/shocks, weight-equalizing hitch, or any other aftermarket modifications that are designed to improve towing capacity, and you no longer have a stock vehicle. That means the manufacturer's recommendation no longer applies to your vehicle.

Unless you get an automotive engineer to certify a new load rating, you're on your own, and the only guidance you have is your own best judgment. That's why you risk the increased liability— you have no one to pass the buck to if you judged wrongly.

So, if your best judgment says to try towing a Sovereign with a Yugo (to pick the most ludicrous example I can imagine), that's up to you, and I wish you luck. But just in case something goes wrong, be prepared to explain to all and sundry just exactly how you judged that to be your best option when there are so many other, more traditional possibilities.
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Old 10-25-2012, 07:59 AM   #13
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No one is towing a Sovereign with a Yugo nor cares to, so don't use that sort of thing to back up your statements, they still hold no water.

We are not on our own because we add a w.d. hitch or change our tires or shocks. We do not need a auto engineer to certify it either, because there is no certification to do. We are recreational vehicle operators, not commercial. The "fear" tactic is just another attempt to make a point when there is no other basis in fact.

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Old 10-25-2012, 08:05 AM   #14
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There are always legal issues with tort law in civil court. I doubt you would be pursued by the DA, but even if the plaintiff were not to succeed in Civil court, you're out a lot of expenses. And I doubt your insurance company would back you if you were overloaded. They'll look for any way out.
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