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Old 06-11-2005, 07:43 PM   #1
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New Owners - Tow Vehicle and Hitch Comments

As a new Airstream owner (2005 19’ Bambi Safari), I thought I would take a few minutes to detail our experience so far.


In simple terms, I like to camp and my wife likes to be clean. A trailer of some sort seemed like a reasonable compromise. We also have two small kids (7 and 4), and frankly, a few amenities are kind of nice.

So, this winter we decided that the kids were old enough to take camping for extended periods and we looked into getting a trailer. Almost immediately, we were drawn to the 19’ Bambi. At first, we liked the CCD, but after seeing them in person, we actually preferred the Safari.

I double checked the weights and such to make sure my ’03 Land Rover Discovery could tow the trailer, and then we went and picked it up. The 2 ½ hour ride home was not the most pleasant. There wasn’t really much sway, but the tow vehicle was pretty much at its limit towing the empty trailer.

FWIW. the dealer never even mentioned anything about hitches. Weight distribution and sway control wasn't even discussed. I didn't bring it up, since I had never pulled anything larger than a small utility trailer and didn't know how complicated things could get.


Literally, the night we got the trailer home, I discovered this web-site. I spent many hours looking through the old posts and coming to the realization that the Land Rover was going to be marginal at best. There were a few problem areas: short wheelbase (100”), slightly anemic motor (217 hp), self-leveling suspension, and a statement in the owner’s manual saying not to use a weight-distribution hitch.

As I’d only had the Land Rover for about 6 months (and really liked it), I looked into every possible method to keep it. The motor was not great, but would pull the trailer OK. The two areas I really concentrated on were the wheelbase and weight-distribution hitch. For the first, I decided to try technology to overcome the problem, so I ordered a Hensley. For the second, I hounded my Land Rover service manager to see if he could get a solid reason why weight-distribution hitches aren’t recommended.

To make a long story short, the service manager finally got an answer. The engineers believe that the self-leveling suspension would react from the leverage imposed by the weight-distribution hitch and cause the rear suspension to become overloaded. They believe that this could cause the rear air-bags to fail. Furthermore, they stated that you need to pay strict attention to tongue weight… which drops considerably (to under 400#) if you were to change the suspension to a standard coil system.

The day after finding out this information, I went out and bought a 2005 Nissan Titan LE Crew-Cab. Out of laziness (not wanting to remove and return it), and an appreciation for how well it works, I’ve decided to keep the Hensley.

With the 19’ Bambi/Hensley/Titan combination, I’ve got a rig which tows beautifully and I no longer lose any sleep about my family’s safety. Since we are going on a 2500+ mile trip this summer, I’m much happier knowing that the setup is overmatched, and not on the edge of what would be acceptable. We took it on a shakedown trip this past weekend, and the Titan performed even better than I had hoped.

I want to say “Thank you” to everyone who has previously contributed to the numerous threads which helped guide me through this series of decisions. BTW, I am very happy with the operation of the Hensley. There were a couple minor glitches during the installation, but their technical support was very swift and competent. With regards to the trailer itself, it is (so far) pretty glitch free. It’s not quite perfect, as there are some minor cosmetic issues, but overall I’m quite satisfied.

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Old 06-11-2005, 09:38 PM   #2
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One observation: 217 horsepower would be more than adequate to pull a Bambi - IF there is sufficient torque. If I recall, the Land Rover develops its horsepower at relatively high rpms, making it hard to keep in the power band while towing. The bottom line is that there are engines out there will lower horsepower that would be well up to the task.

I mention this for someone who, like you, has no previous background in towing and does not know what to expect.


'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 06-11-2005, 10:16 PM   #3
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Rivet Wheel base or horse power

While on this subject I was wondering what you all think is more important in a TV long wheel base or horse power? I have an '04 Bambi and pull it with an F 150 with the 5.2 V8 I seldom drive over 55 so the HP is more than enough but in my mind I like the peace of mind knowing that the long wheel base of this TV is more than enough to handle most sway issues, I also use a Reece friction sway bar with an eaz lift wd hitch.
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Old 06-11-2005, 11:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by ardenrj
While on this subject I was wondering what you all think is more important in a TV long wheel base or horse power? I have an '04 Bambi and pull it with an F 150 with the 5.2 V8 I seldom drive over 55 so the HP is more than enough but in my mind I like the peace of mind knowing that the long wheel base of this TV is more than enough to handle most sway issues, I also use a Reece friction sway bar with an eaz lift wd hitch.
I think it's a matter of matching towed vehicles to towing vehicles.
It seems to me that a Bambi is a goo match for what you're towing with, both for horsepower/torque and wheel base.
There are very many factors that make or break a tow/towed combination.
Axle ratio, GCWR, tow rating etc.
A search of the forums will reveal many threads with an abundance of information on this subject. Use " GCWR " as a search option.
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Old 06-12-2005, 06:24 AM   #5
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I towed the Bambi a few times with the Land Rover. All was done at only slightly over sea level and with very few hills. There's no question that it would tow the trailer. However, at highway speeds (55-60 mph), there wasn't much left. If I needed to speed up to adjust my position relative to merging traffic, it was a tension-filled few seconds. With the Titan, there is plenty to spare. Also, at highway speeds, the Titan is operating slightly under 1900 rpm. The Disco was considerably higher.

We've got a lengthy vacation planned for this upcoming summer, which will include some time in the Rockies. With the Land Rover being somewhat less than optimal at sea level, I just didn't want to have trouble at higher altitudes.
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Old 06-12-2005, 07:56 AM   #6
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you were wise to upgrade your tow vehicle to the titan for this trip tothe rockies. before I got my Argosy I had a colman Utah that weighted (3500lbs) less then my Argosy at 4200 pounds and I pulled my sob with a 2002 Chevy Trailblazer inline 6 with 275 horsepower and It was trully white knuckle time when i went out west to Yellow Stone. When I got my Argosy I used my Trailblazer and it work fine to tow it but it lacked the power I wanted in the lats of Illinois. I then went out and bought a Chevy quad cab 200HD and it tow it like a champ some time I forget that it back there. I think the truck thinks it is a nat on it. This year i will be heading out to the Grand Canyon in late July. where are you going to,
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Old 06-12-2005, 08:41 AM   #7
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Yellowstone is our main destination, but we'll make some side trips along the way. We had originally talked about trying the Grand Canyon, but when I looked at the mileage, it would have been too much to ask of the kids.

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