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Old 06-15-2012, 01:10 AM   #1
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Towing question for newbie

I'm in the process of buying a '68 Sovereign AS. I will be towing or at least I'm hoping to tow with my Tacoma. The specs are below.

Will this work? Safety concerns? I'm completely new to this. I'm buying it to live in while going to school.

Is there anything I should modify on the AS or Tacoma?

How important are breaks on a trailer? Since these trailers don't have them, will the breaks on my Tacoma be enough? I will drive over two mountain passes here in Washington State twice a year. The rest of the year it will be my living quarters.

Thank you in advance!

Tacoma: 4.0L V-6
Towing capacity: 6,500
Tongue weight: 650 lbs.
With towing package.

31 Ft. Sovereign Twin
(International Land Yacht)
Hitch Wt. 520 lbs.
Total Wt. 4995 lbs.
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:50 AM   #2
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Jcdevivero,

Could you please provide more information on your pickup and Airstream. For example:

* What year is your Tacoma?
* Does it have the towing package (HD radiator, transmission oil cooler, hitch, umbilical connector, brake controller, etc.)?
* Are you sure the Airstream doesn't have electric brakes?

While this towing combination might be feasible, my gut feeling is that you need a larger tow vehicle. Just a preliminary opinion with a lot of missing data, but I would hesitate to tow a 30 foot trailer over mountain passes with a V6 and no trailer brakes. You might be OK going uphill, but I'd be afraid of the long downgrades.

While other Tacoma owners will provide more accurate advice, additional info would help.

Thanks,
Phoenix
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Old 06-15-2012, 04:19 AM   #3
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Are you sure about the Gross Vehicle Weight of that 31 ft. Sovereign? 4995 lbs seems mighty skimpy for a beast that long, unless it has been gutted. I am considering a '99 Safari 25 footer, and it's specs are GVWR 6300 with a tongue weight of 680 lbs. My '99 Tacoma with a 3.4 V6 is overloaded to the tune of about 1500 lbs. Yours must be even worse. Then again, if you have a load-leveling hitch and drive really, really slow, you might be able to survive, just like our parents and grandparents did in the 50s and 60s towing things like this with passenger cars. Oh yes, you MUST have electric brakes! That Soveriegn will overrun you on a steep downhill and you will burn up your truck brakes before crashing horribly.
Walter

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcdevivero View Post
I'm in the process of buying a '68 Sovereign AS. I will be towing or at least I'm hoping to tow with my Tacoma. The specs are below.

How important are breaks on a trailer? Since these trailers don't have them, will the breaks on my Tacoma be enough? I will drive over two mountain passes here in Washington State twice a year. The rest of the year it will be my living quarters.

Thank you in advance!

Tacoma: 4.0L V-6
Towing capacity: 6,500
Tongue weight: 650 lbs.
With towing package.

31 Ft. Sovereign Twin
(International Land Yacht)
Hitch Wt. 520 lbs.
Total Wt. 4995 lbs.
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Old 06-15-2012, 04:30 AM   #4
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The trailer comes with electric brakes. You need to repair them and put a proper brake controller in the truck. Thee are some long down hill runs in that trip you discribe. You will need to use some engine braking in order to not overheat your brakes in the truck or trailer. There are some long uphill runs also. Some of them are at pretty high elevations. You will need additional cooling for your engine and transmission. Heavy duty trailer package cooling needs to be installed, if it is not already present on the truck.
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Old 06-15-2012, 07:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcdevivero View Post
I'm in the process of buying a '68 Sovereign AS. I will be towing or at least I'm hoping to tow with my Tacoma. The specs are below.

Will this work? Safety concerns? I'm completely new to this. I'm buying it to live in while going to school.

Is there anything I should modify on the AS or Tacoma?

How important are breaks on a trailer? Since these trailers don't have them, will the breaks on my Tacoma be enough? I will drive over two mountain passes here in Washington State twice a year. The rest of the year it will be my living quarters.

Thank you in advance!

Tacoma: 4.0L V-6
Towing capacity: 6,500
Tongue weight: 650 lbs.
With towing package.

31 Ft. Sovereign Twin
(International Land Yacht)
Hitch Wt. 520 lbs.
Total Wt. 4995 lbs.
Need brakes and a WDH, you are towing pretty close to capacity. And unless the brakes have been removed an Airstream of that size should have the brakes on it.

Aaron
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Old 06-15-2012, 08:06 AM   #6
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I own a Toyota FJ Cruiser (same drive train as the Tacoma), and although I tow boat trailers and a small Casita travel trailer (3500 lbs), I would not dream of towing a 31' Airstream with it. Like others have said, you might survive it, but you absolutely must have the trailer brakes working.

Just my opinion.
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:57 AM   #7
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Our 87 25' Sovereign empty weight is 5100 and gross 6900. I really doubt under 5000 for a 31' and don't believe the Tacoma is a good choice for towing either comfortably or safely. I think a 31' could push you all over the road...
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:49 AM   #8
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Our 87 25' Sovereign empty weight is 5100 and gross 6900. I really doubt under 5000 for a 31' and don't believe the Tacoma is a good choice for towing either comfortably or safely. I think a 31' could push you all over the road...
It is. My 28' 1969 is 4300 dry, They built them a lot lighter back in the day.

You will need trailer brakes before towing Sway control and a weight distributing hitch. With out them it will push you in the ditch in a heart beat. I towed mine home with out them, but I have Sequoia with oversized 4 wheel disc brakes. When I got it hooked up for the first trip I could tell the difference by a mile. It's safer, do it.
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:57 AM   #9
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Towing question for newbe

Greetings jcdevivero!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstreams!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcdevivero View Post
I'm in the process of buying a '68 Sovereign AS. I will be towing or at least I'm hoping to tow with my Tacoma. The specs are below.

Will this work? Safety concerns? I'm completely new to this. I'm buying it to live in while going to school.

Is there anything I should modify on the AS or Tacoma?
I am concerned that you are in the "gray" area of capabilities of your tow vehicle. While the factory stated empty/dry weight of the 1968 Sovereign may be 4,995 pounds, the coach that you are looking at likely weight significantly more than the base. The stated weights are for a coach without options, having no fluids on-board, empty LP tanks, no accessories, and no personal possessions. As an example, my Overlander has an dry weight of 4,250 pounds in the factory literature, but my coach with a large number of options and installed accessories has an actual dry weight slightly in excess of 4,750 pounds . . . and the ready to travel weight is between 6,000 and 6,100 pounds. My Overlander is four feet shorter than your Sovereign, so I suspect that you likely have a dry weight approaching 5,550 pounds . . . with a likely ready to travel weight of close to 6,750 pounds. The ready to travel hitch weight is also likely to be close to 775 pounds which would place you 125 pounds in excess of your vehicle's rating.

So far as "will it work", the answer is a highly qualified "maybe". In most parameters, you will likely be in excess of your tow vehicle's ratings. That said, for a short distance and limited towing thereafter, it "might" work as a stop-gap. In the long-run, I don't believe that you would be satisfied with the performance available with this combination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcdevivero View Post
How important are breaks on a trailer? Since these trailers don't have them, will the breaks on my Tacoma be enough? I will drive over two mountain passes here in Washington State twice a year. The rest of the year it will be my living quarters.
The 1968 Sovereign came with standard four-wheel electric drum trailer brakes. For these to be functional, you will need an electric trailer brake controller in your tow vehicle. To tow this trailer with your proposed tow vehicle, you will most definitely need to have functional trailer brakes as the trailer weight likely equals or exceeds the weight of your tow vehicle and will easily overpower you tow vehicle in an emergency situation if the brakes are not functional.

You need to be prepared that the Sovereign is likely to have an umbilical cord that is wired to a pattern other than the current industry standard. Airstream was using a wiring schmatic of its own design in 1968, and the function/color of the wires was different from the standard utilized today . . . and the actual pin functions in the connector were different from today's standard as well. Often, this is the reason that someone unfamiliar with the wiring in a Vintage Airstream may indicate that trailer brakes aren't present because they don't function when plugged into a tow vehicle wired to today's industry standard.

It is also possible that the trailer brakes may need adjustment or rebuilding. Electric drum trailer brakes are not "self-energizing/automatic adjusting" as are typical automotive drum brakes of recent vintage. One of the reasons for the recommendation to repack and inspect wheel bearing prior to towing a new-to-you coach is to be able to thoroughly inspect the brakes and isnure that they are properly adjusted. Should there be any worn parts in the electric trailer brakes, it is generally much more economical to install fully-loaded-backer-plates that have all new shoes and hardware to completely refurbish the operating components of the electric trailer brakes. It may be necessary to have the drums turned and shoes matched to the drums for the best performance of the electric trailer brakes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcdevivero View Post
Tacoma: 4.0L V-6
Towing capacity: 6,500
Tongue weight: 650 lbs.
With towing package.

31 Ft. Sovereign Twin
(International Land Yacht)
Hitch Wt. 520 lbs.
Total Wt. 4995 lbs.
Good luck with your investigation and deliberations!

Kevin
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
I own a Toyota FJ Cruiser (same drive train as the Tacoma), and although I tow boat trailers and a small Casita travel trailer (3500 lbs), I would not dream of towing a 31' Airstream with it. Like others have said, you might survive it, but you absolutely must have the trailer brakes working.

Just my opinion.
Not to knock on the FJCruiser, but depending on the Taco the wheelbase is 4 to 34 inches longer than the FJCruiser, which makes a big difference in towing behavior. That doesn't get you any more power, but we all tend to drive massively overpowered vehicles anyway compared to Days of Yore... 236 net hp, 266 lb-ft of torque. If the OP is okay with going slower up and down hills than our turbodiesel HD brethren and careful with the setup and weights, it's worth a try. The worst case is that he finds out later that he wants a Tundra instead.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:06 PM   #11
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Hi guys,

You guys are great help! Can you tell my newbieness oozing?

Right after I posted I did a little more research and in fact, the AS does come with breaks.

My Tacoma is a 2006
It has the towing package. It's a TRD, but don't think it has the HD radiator or transmission oil cooler. It has the hitch and no brake controller.

We also have a 2004 Sequoia: 4.7L V-8 6,200 tow capacity w/ 625 tongue weight.

It comes with the towing package, but not with the brake controls or any of the cooling systems. I don't know if due to the engine size and length of the Sequoia, this would be a better option for me.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:26 PM   #12
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Top tows a '72 Ambassador (29-footer) with an '02 Sequoia and 4 other passengers (wife + 3 kids, so 5 ppl total.) It seems to work well for him.
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Old 06-15-2012, 12:58 PM   #13
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You should confirm this on various Toyota forums (Google "Toyota Tacoma Forum" or similar), but if your Tacoma and Sequoia both have factory tow packages, they probably already have heavy duty radiators and transmission oil coolers, along with some other extras (HD battery, HD shocks, overload springs, etc.).

The brake controller is an aftermarket item. Again, if you have the factory towing packages, your Toyotas are probably already wired for a brake controller. Look under the carpeting/floor mat at the front firewall above and behind the brake pedal. You should find a couple of feet of wire with a connector for the brake controller, bundled and stuffed back where it can't be seen or snagged by your feet. If the wire bundle isn't there, adding it isn't too difficult; or you can have this done professionally.

Most brake controllers offer an adapter cable designed to mate to specific models of tow vehicles. A "Toyota" harness is usually $10-15 and allows the brake controller to connect directly to this pre-wired connection. You can also splice the brake controller wires directly to the wires in this bundle, if you decide not to use this connector.

We have a Tekonsha Prodigy, but Tekonsha has several later models that you may wish to consider. These are easily removable and can be switched between tow vehicles in seconds. Also, there are several other brands of brake controllers that all work well for Airstreams, and others will probably provide details on these.

We tow with a 2008 Tundra CrewMax, so a Tacoma seems a little small for this trailer. Personally, I would investigate towing with the Sequoia; because it is a little larger, heavier, and it has a V8. Is there a reason you would rather use the Tacoma?
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:00 PM   #14
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Much better TV. Heavier and longer wheel base. Not sure about your model but mine came with wiring ready to hook up the break controller. Just needed to plug it in.
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