Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-20-2003, 02:48 AM   #15
4 Rivet Member
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 307
The official towing capacity is a guide, not an absolute rule. It may be too low, or too high. A lot depends on your circumstances.

Where will you tow it - in the mountains?
How often? Empty or not?

It is not really the engine you need for towing these things but also suspension, axle ratio, auxillary transmission cooler which you typically get with "towing package".

My #1 concern would be your transmission. Non-heavy duty tranny tend to overheat and die under heavy load. No personal experience with that, but that's what I hear. Your 4.6L will likely struggle in the mountains with 3.55 ratio. 351W engine is better for that purpose and 460 is better still but they are both quite thirsty. Think 13 and 11 mpg, respectively. Maybe you can get away with 351W, judging by the grtaph in "Ford towing guide for 1990", it is almost as powerful as 460, which explains why it is thirsty.

Then you also must have long 8ft bed as a necessity.

I like 30+ A/S. But it is obvious smaller ones are less stress on your vehicle.

I think if I were in your position, I would trade your truck for something else, a 3/4 ton truck with a bigger motor and 4.10 rear. Then size is not a restriction. Depending on how much you need to do to your truck, maybe you can get away with installing 4.10 rear. But then if you *want* a 25', then that makes things much easier, keep what you got.
I knew when I was looking for mine, I wanted something between 30 and 34' and in the end got 32', but I almost got 34' a couple of times.

Justice - When you get what you deserve. Mercy - When you don't get what you deserve
Grace - When you get what you don't deserve
ipso_facto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-20-2003, 09:10 AM   #16
Chuck's Avatar

1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,546
Images: 260
Similar Demographics....

We had our first this year, too...and his name is Jack, too! He was born in April, so we did manage to get him out and about this year. he loved it!
I also have a 1/2 ton Pickup w/ a 3.55 rear end, a Dodge with the 5.2L (318ci) engine. Our A/S is a 73 23', max gross is 5500lbs. I don't really know exactly what it weighs as we've used it, but even though the truck is rated for 7200lbs, it feels pokey in the mountains, for sure. But its very do-able.

I'd have preferred a 25 footer, but this one appeared for sale not too far away from us, was in really good shape, and the seller wanted 6k for it. w/ a new fridge, awnings all around, a/c, and everything in fairly decent working order, I decided to grab it. Of course, there were only 2 of us then...but we fared quite nicely last summer w/ our Jack and all his gear.

I figure I've probably spent another 1k, give or take a few bucks on it....mostly nickle and dime stuff. anyway, the point is that your proposal of camping w/ a baby in a nice airstream that you can pull w/ your half-ton for under 10k is quite do-able. Oh, and keep in mind, they added grey tanks to trailers this size in 1974. Older than that, and you'll need a portable tote-tank....

Here's me, Jack(2.5 months), and the Airstream in July of this year.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	7-2-03 daddy & jack_b.jpg
Views:	311
Size:	44.8 KB
ID:	3889  

Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2003, 07:40 PM   #17
1 Rivet Member
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 10

We definitely love the mountains (especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway!). We do have the towing package on the f-150 with the super-cooled transmission and other goodies, but it sounds from people here that the 31 is pushing it with our 4.6 engine.

We can't really trade vehicles yet as I'm staying home with Jack--(no income). Would a 27' be too much for our little engine in the mountains?

(Hey Chuck- your Jack is very cute! I fear we may need to get another tow vehicle just for our Jack as he's 5 1/2 months now and already 21 pounds! :-) )

I love the idea of a 31', but having never towed anything besides a U-Haul, we're a little intimidated....

Liz, Dennis & Big Jack
airstreamdreamer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2003, 09:58 PM   #18
Rivet Master
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,484
Images: 19
You need to determine the CGWR of your truck. You say that is 11,500. That is the maximum load your truck is designed to carry, haul, contain, or any combination thereof. Subtract the weight of the empty truck including the hitch you will be needing - go to a truck scale if necessary, but say it is somewhere around 5,000 lbs. Subtract also that number the occupants, and whatever tools, gear, firewood, etc. you carry - maybe 500 lbs. The remaining number will be the maximum you can pull behind - probably going to be not more than 6,000 lbs. For towing ease, and better tow vehicle life it is often said to tow only 80% of that figure. That would be 4,800 lbs.

Armed with that information, go to to see the table of weights of (nearly) all Airstream models these last 50 years. These numbers are known to have some errors, but should give you a good base line figure. Remember also that they are for a factory new, empty coach with no fluids and no options. Those granite countertops and the awnings over every window added by the owner of the used coach you are looking at will add considerably. So will all the "stuff" you will want to carry on your travels.

Your budget dictates units made before 1990 or so. Lets take a 1983 Sovereign International 27'. Supposedly 4230 lbs. empty weight. If nothing much has been added to it, you might be able to hit the road something just under 5,000 lbs. Arguably do-able., but I'd want to put the coach on a scale before I bought.

Please note I have made a lot of assumptions here. I'm just trying to walk you throught the process. Information is the key - and it is up to you to get it!

Good luck,

j54mark is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-21-2003, 11:20 PM   #19
The Painted Pig
Moonshot's Avatar
1979 Argosy Minuet 7.3 Metre
Hailey , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 337
Images: 14

You also should ask yourself what type of camping you'll be doing. For us it's mostly weekends or three-day weekend trips. We do take a one week trip once a year, but that's about it.

For us a 24' coach is just right. I feel it's causing no harm to my half ton pickup and I can go anywhere and when I get there the four of us are comfortable for the length of our stay.

If I were staying longer and traveling more I'd probably want something with more storage and room. And maybe when our kids get older I may want something bigger, but I'll weigh that when the time comes. Or it might be best to put them in pup tents outside!

I agree with Mark. You should weigh any Airstream before buying (especially if it is 26' or greater) because even the stated weights at could be incorrect.

Wouldn't it be great if you could try out a camper for a night or two before buying? I'll bet if you find the right seller and pay them a little for the experience they'd let you do just that if you asked.

Here's a good way to spend some time. Go to Vintage Airstreams and check out the various floor plans and models. I'm sure this will help you get a list going of favorite models and floorplans to look out for.

Good luck!

Moonshot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-24-2003, 09:51 AM   #20
Chuck's Avatar

1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,546
Images: 260
I fear we may need to get another tow vehicle just for our Jack as he's 5 1/2 months now and already 21 pounds!
Yep, ours too. just weighed in a couple of weeks ago, @ just shy of 7 months:21lbs/9oz.

gonna have to think about upgrading to a 3/4 ton before long!

keep an eye on the weights chart...think "60's-early 70's", and I'm sure you'll find something that'll work. At a recent rally, we met a couple w/ a 65 26-footer in super condition. It seemed like it would be very comfortable...even had a bunk bed! They pull it w/ a Buick Roadmaster wagon. Of course, no grey tank on a model that old, but there's always some sort of trade-off, I suppose. You can always retrofit a tank, too.

Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Looking for my perfect Airstream. again MikeF Our Community 3 12-20-2002 09:50 PM
airstream! airstream! airstream! 83Excella Our Community 0 03-23-2002 11:37 PM
Airstream Related List Servers Andy R Link Archive 0 02-22-2002 03:05 PM

Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by


This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Airstream, Inc. or any of its affiliates. Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.

Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:12 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.