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Old 08-11-2009, 04:30 PM   #1
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Encino , California
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Who pulls a late model 27 footer?


My wife and I (and two young boys) are yearning for a new (or newer) 27 foot International. I've been reading the boards for a while--so much information it's sometimes overwhelming (and for a newbie, more than a little confusing).

Here's my question: What type of TV do you use to pull your 27 footer and are you satisfied or would you upgrade?

From what I can tell on the Airstream website, the GVWR of the 27 Int FB is 7600 lbs). With the weight of passengers, gear, generator, etc. in the TV, my guess is you need a TV that can haul around 9,500 lbs at a minimum. It seems from reading here that most owners draw a distinction between 25 feet and under and over 25.

I've read a lot about the diesel vs. gas debate, and am pretty confident we will buy a pick-up truck with a gas engine (for us, it appears that the additional upfront cost, maintenance, our intended use, higher cost of diesel especially in California just don't justify the diesel).

We're taking a serious look at the F-250 with the V-10 motor (seems to have the capacity we need) but I've read about the heavier truck suspensions not being particularly kind to the Airstream which concerns us too.

I would be interested in hearing the experiences of others who tow a 27 foot Airstream. Any advice or suggestions are appreciated and welcomed. We're trying to get it right the first time.


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Old 08-11-2009, 05:09 PM   #2
2007 27' Classic FB
1960 17' Pacer
Bozeman , Montana
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 23
27 Footer

My wife and I have a 27 ft Classic and we have been really happy with the trailer. Our previous trailer was a 66 Safari (22 ft; we should have never sold the Safari but one can only have so many projects). IMHO the 27 ft is optimum for us. It has the front bedroom with queen size bed. Although there are only 2 of us, there is ample room to make the couch and dinette into additional sleeping areas. To be quite honest, older (e.g. teenagers) campers would be just as happy pitching a tent and sleeping away from the parental units.

An additional advantage to the 27 ft trailer is towing ease. We have an 04 Titan (5.6 L engine) and have had no problems with tow vehicle on that size trailer. I don't think there would be that much difference towing the 27 ft vs a 25 ft and the extra 2 feet is well worth it.

I believe in the discussions on tow vehicle, it is important to know the experience of the driver. I have a farm background (as well as heavy construction equipment, trucks and trailers) so I have plenty of experience towing. I have never felt underpowered in any of our travels and with the disc breaks on the trailer, there is plenty of stopping power. You will need a good weight distribution system and again, I believe the equalizer is adequate with most setups.

This summer, we logged in 9,150 miles and drove from Tucson, AZ up through Canada to Maine and back (with a stop at Jackson Center). Last summer, we logged approximately 6,500 miles including driving through the rockies in Colorado. Granted, we didn't set any land speed records at the top of some of the passes, but neither did anyone else. When our Titan is ready to trade in, I would definitely buy another 1/2 PU as opposed to shelling out the additional $ for a 3/4 ton.

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Old 08-11-2009, 06:36 PM   #3
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Hey gduff,

Thanks for the helpful information. What's the GVWR of your 27ft Classic? Airstream's specs for the 25 vs. 27 International FB is only a difference of 300 lbs so maybe not a big difference is terms of towing requirements (I realize that there are a number of other factors that go into this equation, but the maximum weight of one is listed at 7300 and the maximum of the other is 7600).

There are many posts that suggest that 25 feet is the unofficial limit when towing with a 1/2 ton pick-up. I guess there are other opinions, too. Since I have zero experience, I'm starting out at the very bottom of the learning curve.
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Old 08-11-2009, 06:46 PM   #4
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2007 23' International CCD
Lapeer , Michigan
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Posts: 7,039
Hi. We have a 27' Classic FB and tow it with a 3/4 ton Suburban. While it was brought over hill and dale from Oregon to Michigan with an Expedition, accelleration and stability is greatly improved with the heavier vehicle. I believe stopping power and the ability to perform panic maneuvers is and will also show improvement with a greater margin between the load and reaching the vehicle's maximum load ratings. It is also less tiring to drive and gives me feeling of being better protected. Driving time while towing is a big part of the travel experience. It's very nice to enjoy the road trip in comfort and end the day with a little more energy.

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Old 08-11-2009, 08:10 PM   #5
2007 27' Classic FB
1960 17' Pacer
Bozeman , Montana
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 23
Our trailer is currently in the shop getting the AC repaired so I don't have the exact specs on weight. I believe it is in the neighborhood of 7600 lbs dry and GVWR 9000. I don't think there is a great difference between the 25 adn 27 ft. When you have to spend time in the trailer is when you will notice the difference.

I agree with Wheel Interested that towing experience is a major portion of the fun. Whatever you feel comfortable driving is what you need to get. I have no problems with people recommending a 3/4 ton TV, however, 10 1/2 months a year I don't need a 3/4 ton and I wouldn't be able to park it in the garage. Our Titan pulls the trailer without any problems and I know that I can get it stopped if needed (our Acutator break controller locked us down in the middle of the interstate in Colorado Springs 2 years ago). I am also a defensive driver so I make sure there is plenty of room between us and the vehicles in front of us. I also tend to take secondary roads so that I can enjoy the scenery w/o the intensity of interstates.

I would, however, recommend if you are going with a 3/4 ton, you consider a diesel. We use diesel PU at work and tow livestock trailers. I think if you are investing more in a 3/4 ton, you might as well invest the extra in a diesel, esp. if you are planning on long trips (the V10 will probably eat you alive in fuel costs).

Take care.
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:10 PM   #6
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2008 27' International CCD FB
Mill Valley , California
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 344
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Hey Wags
Go with the 27FB and get a F250 Diesel.
That's what we have and love it!
Diesel in California is cheaper than gas right now. (why I don't know.... last summer diesel was more expensive)
Imagine driving up the "grapevine" on highway 5 with a 1/2 ton truck. Before we had this combo we had a 25SS pulled by a Yukon XL. The driving experience is like night and day...the Yukon pulled the trailer ok but it felt maxed out with the F250 you have the extra power just in case you need it to get out of a jam. (like passing a semi)
You and your kids will love the layout. There's ample storage and living space. The perfect layout for a family of four!
Good luck!
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Old 08-11-2009, 09:20 PM   #7
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1986 25' Sovereign
Wichita Falls , Texas
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The F250 diesel is the only way to go, there is simply no comparison with any other vehicle, it is just that good!
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Old 08-11-2009, 10:19 PM   #8
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Great responses. I'm going to have give some serious consideration to a diesel engine although I've been reading so many posts about higher upfront costs, higher and more extensive maintenance, mechanical issues, etc. It makes me wonder if it would really be worth it. However, I understand about the fuel cost for the V-10. For those of you that drive a F-250 diesel, have you had a lot of mechanical problems?

Millvallyeca, you have our dream rig. Any issues with the 27 International FB? We're pretty convinced it would be perfect for our family, but we're having a hard time trying to decide what the ideal TV would be (seems every choice is a compromise between towability, reliability and cost).
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:14 PM   #9
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2008 27' International CCD FB
Mill Valley , California
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Millvallyeca, you have our dream rig. Any issues with the 27 International FB? We're pretty convinced it would be perfect for our family, but we're having a hard time trying to decide what the ideal TV would be (seems every choice is a compromise between towability, reliability and cost).[/quote]

We have no issues with our 27FB.
It's perfect for a family of four.
The layout is VERY functional.
The kitchen is wonderful...lots of storage and a great lobster sink.
The dinette is great as an eating area, board game/craft table, office/computer table AND converts easily to a deep sofa for after dinner dvd/tv watching or just lounging.
We installed a tv in the bedroom....this way the kids have their tv and we have ours at night.
There's plenty of storage....I installed two 5 pull out draws in the main storage area which gives each of us plenty of space for our clothes. Theres a huge storage area under the queen bed along with tons of overhead bins.
The bathroom/shower area can be easily sectioned off for privacy.
All of our outside "furniture" go in the storage compartment behind the propane tanks. (its kinda tight to get into but works) It holds two fold up chairs, a lounge chair, a portable hammock, a folding aluminum table and a bag of water-guns...o yeah and a 10'x10' anti bug tent.
The F250 carries our 4 bikes and all of the other camping essentials (bbq, hoses, cords, chocks, etc)

How soon are you planning on getting your dream rig?
Now seems like a great time to be buying....the deals are out there!

If you have any specific questions im me!

Good luck
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:31 AM   #10
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Hi Dennis,

We looking to buy in the Spring or early Summer next year. Our younger son will just be out of pre-school (old enough to really enjoy it and Dad won't have to pay those monthly school bills!). Gives us enough time to do a lot of research which is really helpful.

I agree about the layout of the 27 FB. It looks like it would be perfect for us, too. Did you have a dealer install the second television (what a great idea!)? Where did you buy? There are a dearth of Airstream dealers in Southern California so we may start looking at dealers out of our area.

Thanks again,

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Old 08-12-2009, 12:21 PM   #11
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2008 28' Safari SE
winter garden , Florida
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since the 27' is actually longer than the 28' you should look at both, as a matter of fact the 25' FB is actually 1" short of 26' and other than the bed layout had as much room as our 28', now as to your question, we tow with an f250 crewcab diesel, seats 6 with comfort, can load the box with any toys and tows or 28' like its not even there. You will have to get used to the mpg, its 11 mpg, does not matter if your empty, towing, in town or city, the mileage is 11 mpg.
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:38 PM   #12
1996 34' Classic
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1996 34' Excella
Locust Grove , Virginia
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As you can see from our signature, we're towing our '08 Safari 27FB-SE with an '05 F-150 5.4L 4x4 SuperCab. The 5.4L is the newer version with the 3valves/cylinder and rated at 305HP and approx 315 ft/lb of torque. It's 2 adults, one dog and one cat when we travel.

Overall, the truck pulls very well. We don't get nearly the trailer bumpiness that we used to get with our 23' International. When we're towing on reasonably flat ground (not through WV), we're getting about 10-10.5mpg. What I don't like about the F-150 series truck is that you have to turn OD off and this locks the tranny in 3rd, not 4th. While this provides plenty of torque and keeps the tranny from doing gear searches, the motor is running at 2500rpm @ 65mph and when you're going through the mid-west, it is running at that level for extended periods of time.

We did a 3900 mile/18 day trip in late June/early July and in spite of really high outside temps and extended runs, the motor temp never went above mid-point. The F-150 also comes with a auxhiliary tranny cooler so I have alot of confidence that it won't fail due to high temps.

I've posted details of our trip with the following thread names:
Iowa and West Virginia
Hello from Intercourse
3955 miles

Shameless Plug: We are contemplating going Full Time and when we do the move, it will be in a Fifth-Wheel (38-41ft) so our AS will be for sale. Send a PM when your ready to buy and if the timing is right, we might be able to do a deal.
2016 GMC 2500HD Denali (Betsy 4)
1996 34' Excella 1000 (Arvin3 as this is our 3rd AS)
2010 TREK 2.3
Fair is where they put ribbons on pigs.
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:49 PM   #13
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2008 27' International CCD FB
Minnetonka , Minnesota
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We have two preteen boys so we sold our 19ft bambi and bought the 27FB international after much deliberation between the 25 and 27. When we actually got in it and tried getting in and out of bed and so on the 25 was a bit of a squeeze. Im tall and bump my head getting in and out of the sideways bed in the 25. We were upgrading for the room so i figured why stop short of the 27? Well because i didnt want to go to a 3/4 ton since wed only be towing for 3 or 4 months out of the year. And i didnt want to drive a 3/4 the rest of the time. But i also worried about towing something 28ft long. However I find it tows just as easy as my 19 did. Now that i deal with a pick up (2008 tundra crew cab limited) which is way bigger than the suv we used to pull with, the rig behind has been super easy. We are super happy now. The boys each have their own beds. We just roll out two sleeping bags at night and throw em in the closet in the morning. I cant say enough good things about the 27 FB international signature series. Its even easier to back in. The length and the dual wheels react slower and you can adjust. The short single axle used to get away from me all the time. Our tow vehicle is a 2008 limited crew cab tundra. Super comfortable for the journey. Lots of room. And tows great. You can forget your trailer is back there. Now we live in minnesota and so Im not in the mountains all the time but we're just back from the north shore. There was a lane closure on our way home going up a 6 to 8% grade. We came to a stop. But had no trouble pulling up the hill. So far we are really pleased and havent felt underpowered at all. Now we dont really load down our trailer to the limit. And sometimes we bring the bikes in the bed of the truck and sometimes not. I figured Id give it a go this way and see how it does. Ive thought of an F250 and i look at em on the road but really I havent felt the need to trade in for it.
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Old 08-12-2009, 01:02 PM   #14
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2004 30' Classic Slideout
Fenton , Missouri
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We pulled an '01 27' Safari with a half ton Chevy passenger van for a couple of years. That engine axle combo was a 5.7 liter gas engine with a 3.73 rear end. The Safari came in at 6,000 lbs with a normal food/clothing, full LP load. No liquids in any of the holding tanks. Unloaded weight was 5,500 lbs. My van was rated to tow 6,500 lbs. and I towed in 3rd gear (no OD).

No real issues, I did my usual midwest towing with annual trips down to Branson. Mileage was in the 10-12 mpg range while towing.


Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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