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Old 09-10-2006, 08:10 AM   #1
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Towing with a Bronco???

We bought a 1972 27' International about a month ago. I have a 1991 Full-size Bronco with the towing package. Before reading on here I had assumed it would be ok to tow with the Bronco. We pulled it home with the Bronco and it seemed fine, but that was a very short distance. My question is: Is there anything that I can do to make this a safe tow vehicle? Or is it just impossible??

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Old 09-10-2006, 08:20 AM   #2
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Not going to be safe

Hi newbie,

The big issue, in my opinion, with towing with a Bronco is the short wheel base. I used to have a '78 that I did some towing with. Other than for light payloads the short wheel base made it an unsuitable vehicle to tow with. Can you get your camper moving with a Bronco, you bet. Will you have a tow vehicle that will allow you to maintain control over your rig at speeds over 50 mph or in a sudden emergency, I wouldnt bet on it. I loved my Bronco, but it just isnt designed for this sort of application. By the way, congratulations on the new airstream!


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Old 09-10-2006, 08:46 AM   #3
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I agree with Rodney. The main issue is the super short wheelbase of the Bronco. I used to pull car trailers with a K5 Blazer, and was not at all satisfied with the handling. If you are just camping close by, you can probably get by. I would not want to tow cross country with it.
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:01 AM   #4
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Newbee 2006, I pull my trailer with a 1968 Ford F100 4x4 pickup. It has a 1993 Bronco 5.0 fuel injected engine. It was the pre runner to the full size Bronco. In fact when I did the upgrade I used many of the parts from the Bronco in my pickup. Towing with the Ford. Yes it has a small wheel base. And maybe its a little underpowered. I drive based on my vehicles. Many of us old times are use to doing that. I guess it had to do with how you choose to live your life. I drive from 50 to 55mph. I drive in the slow lane. I follow a long distance from the vehicles in front of me. I gear down when going down steep hills. The best part of this style is that I have the time to enjoy the jorney. I see many Rvers in these new big pickups pulling their trailers at 80 miles an hour. My guess is that they have never really had to stop at those speeds. When you take that much weight and length and try to stop it at those speeds, control is a guessing game. Years ago I use to drive a 60 passenger school bus. That much weight stops when it wants too. It was a good experience. I learned to drive defencive. I'm in the process of putting a sign on the back of my trailer. It will say the following:
"Limited budget/Limited speed".
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Old 09-10-2006, 09:40 AM   #5
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Hello newbie2006 -- The listed hitch weight for your empty Airstream is in the 500# range. I have no doubts that this could approach the 800# range with your personal goods onboard, LP in the tanks, and weight distribution gear installed on the tongue (it's probably already there from PO). There will be more hitch weight if your Overlander has the optional spare tire. Weighing the tongue yourself is the number you should count on.

Look at your Bronco's owners manual specs. The number listed for 'payload' or 'load capacity' is the maximum weight for safe operation, accident avoidance and braking. You should not exceed this weight whether you're towing or not. Several steps follow -- add up the weights of you and any passengers you'll be traveling with. Add up any optional gear on the Bronco (non-factory hitch bars, etc) and any other luggage carried in the Bronco. To those numbers add your hitch weight. It is too much if these exceed your Bronco's load capacity.

Notice that 'tow capacity' or 'GCWR' seem to allow towing heavier loads. Those numbers are derived with only a driver inside the vehicle and do not permit you safely to exceed tow vehicle load capacity.

That being said, you might get away with using the Bronco for local moving of your Airstream for any work and refurbishing you'd be doing. Follow Don's advice! And make a plan to upgrade your tow vehicle when you can.

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Old 09-10-2006, 10:10 AM   #6
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Newbie: In the early 90s ex-husband and I towed an 1976 18ft Layton with an '82 Bronco. The Layton being an SOB had, quite naturally, the aerodynamics of a storage shed. Short as it was, it probably was comparable in weight to your coach. We were really naive newbies and thought as long as it had the engine power it could tow. Our first trip out we blew some kind of wheel seals in the back. Next trip it was the head gasket. My ex and my son decided to do an engine transplant with an even bigger engine and a header exhaust system. The Bronco constantly overheated or vapor locked. Still, we had some great times in that trailer and took it down to Mexico a number of times (nearly burning up the truck and trailer brakes on some of the mountain grades.)

While you might have Newbies luck as my ex and I had in not getting in any terrible safety situations because of the short wheel base stability issue, I can just about guarantee you will destroy your Bronco.
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Old 09-10-2006, 12:37 PM   #7
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Thanks to you all for your input, maybe my wife will let me trade her Caravan for a Suburban!
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Old 09-10-2006, 01:39 PM   #8
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Hi newbie2006--I have towed our 1973 27' Overlander with a number of 1/2 ton Suburbans with 5.7ltr and now 5.3ltr engines, and 3.73 or 4.10 rears. My wife and daughter both enjoy driving the Suburban as it is easy to drive, park, and the high seating gives you a great view of the road. They also like it because whatever they want to buy, they can get it home in the Suburban. The 4.10 is best for towing, and you can't measure the gas mileage difference from the 3.73. Get your wife behind the wheel of a Suburban, and she'll never settle for a minivan again.--Frank S
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Old 09-10-2006, 02:08 PM   #9
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My first Airstream was a 21', and I towed it with a 1994 Bronco with the 351 cu in engine.

I had the same concern about towing with the short wheel base, and eventually I upgraded to Suburban.

To improve handling and safety margins while towing with the Bronco, I invested in a Hensley Arrow hitch, and I never experienced any issues with control, or sway. There are a number of threads here about the Hensley. You could check these threads and ask people that are using the Hensley about towing with a shorter wheel base vehicle, and also check out the Hensley website and get info there - they advertise that their hitch improves handling with a less-than-ideal match up of trailer and tow vehicle.

I'm not making a case for towing with a shorter wheel base, but rather for doing things that improve towing performance. Not everyone can upgrade to a better tow vehicle, so this is just a suggestion on an alternative that you could consider.

Good luck!
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Old 09-10-2006, 03:04 PM   #10
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canoe stream wrote...
Notice that 'tow capacity' or 'GCWR' seem to allow towing heavier loads.
Those numbers are derived with only a driver inside the vehicle and do not permit you safely to exceed tow vehicle load capacity.

gcwr is not 'derived' this way at all...

gcwr is the sum total of tv, trailer, hitch, people, pets, gear, fluids, food, options...and so on.

gcwr is the combination of everything moving, stopping, turning and parked.

just as gawr and gvwr are the upper limits for axle loads or tv loads, gcwr is the upper limit for the TOTAL LOAD...

i've not read anything here yet that explains to my satisfaction how gvwr, gawr or gcwr are derived....

while most here agree exceeding payload isn't wise or safe...

it doesn't mean the vehicle will explode if you are a few pounds over...

it does mean that the stopping distance, brake fad, control, suspension and other weight bearing bits...are RATED at this limit.

it is funny how some 'rating specs' are perceived as being unrealistically high and others too low...

often times based on domestic vs import branding...

it would be a learning experience to visit with some current auto engineers and discuss how ratings are established....

and without drawing fire from the anti haha faction...

i agree with rdm16ccd...
using a hensley with a short wheelbase, but other wise adequate tv could be helpful...

and too further improve 'safety' as the poster asked....
keep an eye on whatever hitch is used...lose is bad

make sure the trailer brakes are fresh and work well...
get a good brake controller and make sure it is properly adjusted...
this means practice sudden stopping now instead of when needed

keep the air pressure UP in the tv and trailer...
keep fresh tires all around...

practice with your combo,
someplace without traffic,
feeling how the combo responds to sudden priceless.

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Old 09-10-2006, 04:25 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by newbie2006
Thanks to you all for your input, maybe my wife will let me trade her Caravan for a Suburban!
Newbie -- it's a great big buyer-beware world out there. I think you're on to something with the 'burb idea -- probably won't need a 3/4 ton if you avoid the smallest engine and stay conscious about weights.

The owner must still place the safety of themselves & family first and foremost. Pursuing a pricey Hensley hitch could get you substantially toward trade + purchase of a good used Suburban -- but on further research you might decide you want one anyway. They aren't usually necessary on shorter trailers but 27' is getting longer. Many with new (heavier) Airstreams are quite satisfied with other good antisway WD hitches like Equalizer or Reese Dual Cam. The Hensley is the 'gold standard' of the last possible margin of control. One would have to question the Hensley idea if it were necessitated by a tow vehicle you might not have much longer anyway. A '91 Bronco is marginal to begin with -- and may be getting long in the tooth. The Hensley itself is how much additional weight up on the A-frame? 200# I hear, but I don't know that for certain.

Inputs for maneuverability derive from two sources. Braking the TV must come from the TV. Braking the Airstream should mostly come from the trailer brakes. But steering only can come from the TV.

Some of these issues have been discussed before without any absolute resolution. In the interest of fairness I would refer you to some of the same members' discussions in the What's the weight and Can I tow with this? threads.

Settle in and research. Time is on your side.

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Old 09-10-2006, 07:18 PM   #12
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We have already been kinda keepin our eyes open for a Suburban, as towing with the Bronco after what I have read makes me a little nervous. Probably will not be a new one as that is just not in the budget. I believe we can find a good used one for a resonable price. I have considered trading the Bronco, but I just don't know if I can bring myself to do it. It had a brand new motor and trans put in it about a year ago, and still just has about 20,000 on it. Guess we will just wait and see when find something!
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Old 09-10-2006, 07:39 PM   #13
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I know I am coming in a bit late, but nothing scares me more than a Bronco or Jeep CJ pulling a trailer more than 3500 lbs traveling beside me on a mountain interstate. Short wheel bases contribute to many of the terrible roll-over accidents even when not towing, adding the tail just creates the perfect formula for loosing control.

You are showing great wisdom in questioning the forum. Your lean towards a Suburban or similar TV should become a necessity, not a choice.

Cogratulations, welcome to the Airstream world of safe and sane travelers.

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Old 09-10-2006, 08:11 PM   #14
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This guy "Caddywhompus" on the Trailer life forum speaks often on how bad his Bronco was as a tow vehicle.....

Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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