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Old 12-09-2004, 04:17 PM   #1
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hello,
I just purchased a 1987 34' Excella. My neighbor pulled it home for me and I'm thrilled to own it. I've never towed anything in my life. What kind of vehicle can I "get away with"? Will an SUV with a 5000 lb tow capacity be adequate?
It has three axles and shows a station wagon pulling it on the brochure. Weight is approx. 7800 lbs.
thanks for any and all help.
howard
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Old 12-09-2004, 04:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by howardP
hello,
I just purchased a 1987 34' Excella. My neighbor pulled it home for me and I'm thrilled to own it. I've never towed anything in my life. What kind of vehicle can I "get away with"? howard
Glad you signed up & happy to have your questions!

You will certainly get the 'right' info here on this site.

Just for the humor though, you don't want to wind up like the next poster's video shows. See 'Towing Humor' .

You will probably want to wind up with a 3/4 ton or better towing vehicle capable of approx 10-15% More towing capacity than you need for your safety and comfort needs.

Some get away with less (smaller margin) and do OK. But if you are looking, definitely go for more capacity than you really have to have!!

Steve in Sav'h
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Old 12-09-2004, 04:44 PM   #3
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Can you tow it? Sure. Should you? No.

The empty dry weight of an '87 Excella is listed on the Airstream site as being 7100 lbs., with an 800 lb. tongue weight. Your weight of "7800" lbs. is probably either the current weight empty or with a light load. It is likely to weigh a good deal more if loaded with the kind of stuff most of us carry.

You are going to be overloaded on towing capacity, and very likely overloaded on the rear axle rating as well. Aside from possible legal and liability concerns, the wear and tear on an overstreased tow vehicle can add up to major $$$ very quickly.

There are several good threads on analyzing towing capacity and matching the right vehicle to the right coach, and I suggest very strongly that you take some time to look them over. You probably need something in the 3/4 ton class with the full set of towing options. Fortunately these are available in truck, van, and SUVs, and there are plenty to choose from. However, some of the very late model "1/2 ton" trucks out there now have very high tow ratings - 9,000 lbs. or more if I recall correctly, but you will really want to understand what the ratings mean and what is included in those capacity figures as you will likely be cutting it pretty close.

Good luck, and congradulations!

Mark
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Old 12-09-2004, 05:36 PM   #4
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thanks for the help...I'm sure I will have more questions as time goes on
Quote:
Originally Posted by howardP
hello,
I just purchased a 1987 34' Excella. My neighbor pulled it home for me and I'm thrilled to own it. I've never towed anything in my life. What kind of vehicle can I "get away with"? Will an SUV with a 5000 lb tow capacity be adequate?
It has three axles and shows a station wagon pulling it on the brochure. Weight is approx. 7800 lbs.
thanks for any and all help.
howard
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Old 12-09-2004, 07:53 PM   #5
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The Airstream I plan to purchase has a dry weight of nearly 1,000 lbs less than yours, but I decided to purchase a 3/4 ton super crew cab instead of a 1/2 ton even though the brand I prefer has a max of 9,400 lb capacity in the towing package on the 1/2 ton. There were a couple of reasons I decided to go with the 3/4 ton. Mainly are the transmission and brakes. Both are lighter duty in the 1/2 ton. I never would have thought about the brakes being different in the two classes of trucks but when I found out there was, I felt the difference would add a safety factor. The heavier duty transmission would just last longer. The suspension is also more rugged in the 3/4 ton.

I am one to purchase new and keep a vehicle for 10 years. My current 1/2 truck has only pulled a trailer twice in the 10 years I have had it. I drive it to work round trip 50 miles every day and currently have 175,000 miles on it and it is still good to go for at least another year. In fact it doesn't even use oil. I want the same longevity with my next truck and feel I will be more likely to get it with a 3/4 ton pulling a 6K+ lb. trailer on a monthly basis. A 3/4 ton is less than $500 more in price. Over the 10 years I plan to keep it, that is pretty cheap to insure a long life. However, I do plan on bitting the bullet and getting the powerstroke diesel to increase fuel economy and further increase the odds of longevity. I don't think it is necessary for the coach I plan on purchasing, but it will give me peace of mind to have the extra power when I need it on hills.
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Old 12-09-2004, 08:11 PM   #6
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Hello Howard P, this is Howard B. (wingfoot1)

I am a member of the WBCCI. Most of the big units like you have purchased are owned by WBCCI members.

Your unit will tow at about 8800-9000lbs. The number one vehicle of choice is a GM Suburban with the old 454 cubic inch engine or the new 6.0 liter, 300hp replacement. I see plenty of older half ton subs towing these units but, the new vehicles are 2500's or 3/4 ton suburbans.

I tow with the GMC Sierra 2500HD Ext Cab, 4x4, 6.0liter, 300hp, 4.1rearend. The only thing wrong with this rig is the ride. At the end of a 350-400 mile run, you are more tired than in a Suburban. My friend has the 2500 Suburban with the same equipment as my truck except 4x4. I have followed him many miles and that tow vehicle combination handles his 1992 35ft Excella just fine. The trailer passed the 100,000 milestone this year. His new suburban is a 2003.

With a trailer that heavy, you can't have too much tow vehicle. If your style is trucks, a crew cab turbo diesel will deliver the most hp and torque.
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Old 12-09-2004, 08:45 PM   #7
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Howard

I myself like the restro look of the trailer being pulled by the equal tow vehicle of the time. If the original owner had wanted to show off their camping choice that matched their life style they would have picked a vehicle they already owned or one they could afford.

Now that you have the trailer give it a thought. What would a person who could afford a new 87 A/Stream be driving ? What vehicle would easly handle the 34 feet and be in style with the trailer, and the owner who wanted to show "their stuff" ??? Look at the vehicles either three years older than your 87 and three years younger. How about a Buick Roadmaster or a Lincoln instead of the "cookie cutter" vehicle?

Last July I went for my first time to be part of a vintage A/Stream rally. My wife and I laughed to ourself because a Hummer showed up pulling a Bambi. What we both went aaah and oooh over was the yellow 56 truck pulling a Bambi. And the woman in the white Crown Vic was the crowds favorite.

Rodger & Gabby
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Old 12-09-2004, 10:29 PM   #8
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Smile Tow Vehicle

Quote:
Originally Posted by howardP
hello,
I just purchased a 1987 34' Excella. My neighbor pulled it home for me and I'm thrilled to own it. I've never towed anything in my life. What kind of vehicle can I "get away with"? Will an SUV with a 5000 lb tow capacity be adequate?
It has three axles and shows a station wagon pulling it on the brochure. Weight is approx. 7800 lbs.
thanks for any and all help.
howard
Hi Howard, This just for your info. I am a Chevy man and I tow my 85 Sovereign with a 3/4 ton 1998 Silverado with 5 speed standard trans. I have been to Alaska and back and no problem. The reason I like standard is that when you go down hill all you do is shift down and use your brakes very little. It is the same joing up hill you shift down and keep your engine in the power curve. My engine is 350 vortex the last of the cast iron. I lso get 12 to 14 miles per gallon when I tow the AS.

Regards Russell
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Old 12-09-2004, 11:40 PM   #9
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I have a 31' that I towed for over a year with a half ton Yukon, 350 cu in.
Anemic is the only adequate word. Would it pull it? Yes.
Was there any margin? No.
The idea of even small hills causing the need to downshift to 2nd and hold rpms at 2700-3000 and grind out hills at 45 mph at best while 18 wheelers fly past at 75 mph will give even a confident experienced tow driver night sweats and white knuckles. And all that at 6.5 to 7 mpg average.

As soon as possible, I bit the bullet and got a GMC Duramax 4x4 Crew Cab.
Now I get 12 towing at 70 mph and hardly know the trailer is behind me on almost any hill. Mountain passes are only modestly noticeable.
The best part....I no longer arrive at my desination exhausted mentally and physically from the drive.
Plus, the Duramax is getting almost 20 mpg solo.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...achmentid=8322
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Old 12-10-2004, 02:08 PM   #10
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Don't see how you could tow with less than 3/4. You want to take into consideration stopping. You'll have a heavy load and need fewer brake jobs if you get a 3/4 ton. Also a margin of safty if the trailer brakes / controller are not setup right. Do you have brakes on all six trailer wheels.
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Old 12-10-2004, 03:10 PM   #11
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I think you answered your own question!

You have a 7800lb coach and looking at an SUV with a 5,000 tow capacity (keeping in mind that the 5k rating is diminished by passengers, cargo, etc). So in reality you have a vehicle with less than 5k tow rating trying to safely (and that's the key word--safely) haul 7800lbs.

As some have said, will it do it, sure, it'll move it. Just keep in mind when it's windy out, or your in the mountains or hills, you will have a vehicle that in most cases weighs less than the fully loaded coach...and if that's the case, you'll be towed by the coach...not the other way around. How do I know this? I towed 6000lbs with a car that weighed 5380lbs and had a 5k tow rating. Strong winds moved us like a pinball cause the wind would hit the massive coach, pushing it a bit, making the car respond to the Airstream, not the Airstream responding to the car.

One other concern is wheelbase. Most SUVs the smaller kind have a VERY short wheelbase. Our car was the equiv of a 1/2, but it's wheelbase was 118" which is on the short end of what I really needed with 25' of coach. In your case, anything less than 125" to 130" might not be a good idea either.

Do yourself a favor, start to look at 3/4 ton vehicles with a 9k tow rating. I know some will say the 1/2 ton rated can do it and they are right, it can, but in the long run, you'll be better off with either a 1500HD (equiv to a 2500) or simply go with the 2500 (3/4 ton) mostly cause the hardware in some of the key areas (brakes, trans and rear end) have more stout gear installed in them.
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Old 12-10-2004, 09:17 PM   #12
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I tow our '94 Limited 34' with an Excursion V10. It is adequate to tow the Behemoth, but it is definately the 'bottom end' of reasonable for that size trailer. I wouldn't consider anything less than the Excursion or equal 3/4 ton Sub. 7800 lbs is the 'dry' weight. As posted earlier, your loaded weight will realistically run closer to 9000 lbs.

Good luck!

Roger
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Old 12-11-2004, 01:57 PM   #13
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I tow my 34 with a 92 dodge cummings 4x4 5speed. I needed to add the banks package to it in order to climb 6-9% grades with any speed at all. No one has ever complained about having too much power. Best of luck. The cheapest good tow for the 34 that I have seen is the 3/4 ton ford van v-10 if my memory serves me right.
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Old 12-11-2004, 02:18 PM   #14
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One other VERY important item.
Transmission cooler is a MUST.
Transmission TEMP GUAGE is a MUST.
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