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Old 09-01-2013, 11:52 AM   #1
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2010 25' FB Flying Cloud
Carefree , Arizona
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Six Months into our Airstream Adventure...

This forum has been very helpful but I am guilty of not contributing so here goes...hope other find some useful info here. Just so everyone knows, we are absolute newbies to the RV world. Here goes...

Our Airstream...
Ran into a great deal back in March on a like new 2010 Flying Cloud 25FB and we didn't hesitate...we went for it. Did it before we even had a tow vehicle. So far it has exceeded our expectations in every way. If we could change anything, we would like it to have a bit more room on the narrow side of the queen bed.

The Search for the right Tow Vehicle...
Finding the right tow vehicle has been a bit like Goldilocks and the three Bears. So we'll call it Airstream and three TVs...

#1
Did a bunch of research including reading every post here and purchased a 2012 Ford F-150 EcoBoost with Max tow package. Had only 5k miles on it and was like new. Great truck. Quiet, smooth, awesome power. Gas mileage was always poor but may have been due to it not being broken in. Issue was the wheelbase...it was the 157" model and I underestimated just how long that is. Simply put, it was so long it was painful to maneuver with or without the trailer. Other concern was payload. Due to the tongue weight of the 25FB, it was always a concern. Lastly, wanted the TV to be a daily driver and this wasn't it.

#2
Sold the F150...fortunately, got my money out of it. Did more research and heard good things about the Tahoe when equipped with their max tow package (rated at 8500 pounds). Found a like new 2012 LT with 20k miles. Nice, comfortable vehicle. Took our first trip and it was comfortable. But our first trip was from Phoenix to Tucson...pretty flat. Second trip was up to Flagstaff which is a about a mile climb. The Tahoe did not do well. Best I could do was 35-40mph and was working hard to keep that up. Plus transmission temps were a huge concern as they were north of 240f degrees. Needless to say, stressful. And in the overall scheme of the travel we want to do, not huge mountains. Simply put, this vehicle should not be rated to tow 8500 pounds.

#3
During our trip up north, we stopped by a Ford dealer who asked if I had ever driven their new 6.7L diesel. I said I had not so I did. All I can say is wow. Towing a trailer with 800 foot pounds of torque (@1600 RPM) is a whole different world. It has simply changed our towing experience. Forever. Because it tows the trailer so effortlessly, it makes for a pleasant and stress free experience. They made us a great deal so we left them the Tahoe and drove out with a F250.

As much as I appreciate it's power, I think the engine braking is just as impressive. Tell the truck how fast you want it to go down the hill, and it does it, largely without braking. I love that. So far, I'm getting between 14-16.25mpg with much of that being mountain trailering. I'm told diesels take awhile to break in and that should improve further. Overall, love this monster!

The Hitch System...
The Airstream came with a Hensley but I sold it. Many won't agree but I thought it was too heavy and cumbersome. Based on the feedback on the forums, I took a chance and went with the Anderson WD system. It performed great with all three TVs. It did a pretty good job eliminating sway with the F150 and Tahoe. The Anderson combined with the F250 is the ticket though. It feels like the Airstream is bolted to the back of the truck. Solid as a rock.

Time for new Tires...
Although the Goodyear Marathons looked great, they were coming up on 4 years and worried about them. Read everything there is to read here on the forums (and there is a ton to read) and it came down to GY Marathons again, Carlisle, or Michelin LTX (15"). Being a hardcore Michelin fan, I decided to go that route. $630 out the door from Discount. All I can say is wow. It was an entirely different tow experience. It is smoother for both the AS and the Ford (even my wife commented on this). It's even quieter. And it tracks so much better. Again, thanks so much for the folks who took the time to share their experience.

So far we've gone on a total of 7 trips with the last one being a 2000 mile Phoenix - Flagstaff - Durango - Taos - Santa Fe tour. And we absolutely love it. It's always a bit sad to start towards home and we find ourselves planning our next outing before we even arrive.

Again, thanks to the many contributors to this forum. There is no better source for info out there!
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:36 PM   #2
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Yes, surprised about the Hensley decision.

I can hitch up, alone, in five minutes flat, including setting the WD. I don't find it difficult at all. On our most recent trip we went through a period of heavy rain, heavy truck traffic all the way. With the Hensley, we didn't even feel it - no sway, no reaction of any kind.

Glad you've found a TV that works for you.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:12 PM   #3
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Um.. I had just about convinced myself that we want to upgrade to a hensley or propride hitch. Our 25 ft trailer pulls ok with our Jeep Commander and our old fashioned Reese hitch, but it could be better. It is also interesting about your TV experience. We had transmission overheat problems on our Jeep going up hill and backing up hill into a campsite. We will have to rethink both the hitch and the TV.

Thanks for sharing your experiences.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:21 PM   #4
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We love our F-250 Power Stroke. Most of the time you have to remember the AS is back there!
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:24 PM   #5
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Hi Andy,

Don't get me wrong, it worked well. And if I had started with the F250 I likely would have kept it. But in the beginning with the F150, we were pushing the envelope a bit on weight. It is good product and does exactly what it is designed to do so I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from investing in one!

Best,

Brian
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:40 PM   #6
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Hi jupitorj,

I really, really wanted to make an SUV work so that I could use it as my daily driver and my TV. I just didn't want the space and expense that comes along with 3 vehicles.

But the experience with the Tahoe woke me up. Going up to Flagstaff (a long 5000 foot climb) was terrible. I settled on 35mph and it was still laboring hard. Transmission temps were hovering around 245 degrees. In addition, I definately felt the lack of wheelbase...the tail was wagging the dog (something I never felt with either pickup trucks). I found it impossible to relax and enjoy myself.

So in the end, I'm really pleased with our ultimate choice (finally). Now towing the AS is absolutely effortless and enjoyable. I use the cruise control usually set at 60mph. It's crazy...even going up a 6% grade, it rarely if ever shifts out of 6th gear!

As to the Hensley, see my post above. I think it is an excellent product and certainly would not talk anyone out of it. For me though, I love the elegance and simplicity of the Anderson.

Hope all that helps more than it confuses!

Best,

Brian
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by wiredforless View Post
Hi jupitorj,

I really, really wanted to make an SUV work so that I could use it as my daily driver and my TV. I just didn't want the space and expense that comes along with 3 vehicles.

But the experience with the Tahoe woke me up. Going up to Flagstaff (a long 5000 foot climb) was terrible. I settled on 35mph and it was still laboring hard. Transmission temps were hovering around 245 degrees. In addition, I definately felt the lack of wheelbase...the tail was wagging the dog (something I never felt with either pickup trucks). I found it impossible to relax and enjoy myself.

So in the end, I'm really pleased with our ultimate choice (finally). Now towing the AS is absolutely effortless and enjoyable. I use the cruise control usually set at 60mph. It's crazy...even going up a 6% grade, it rarely if ever shifts out of 6th gear!

As to the Hensley, see my post above. I think it is an excellent product and certainly would not talk anyone out of it. For me though, I love the elegance and simplicity of the Anderson.

Hope all that helps more than it confuses!

Best,

Brian
Brian, the Andersen hitch didn't work for for our 1/2 ton vehicles either because it is not capable of transferring necessary weight to the front axle. That is quite obvious in your photos. Yes, the tail will wag the dog if the front axle is too light, as you learned.

Your 3/4 ton is heavier in front and takes up some of the Andersen's weakness, and it has tires with much stiffer sidewalls, which also help a great deal. I would be concerned about slick roadways for emergency handling and braking with your present setup. It appears you would also have trouble with oncoming vehicles with the headlights shining upward.

Too bad about your decision with the Hensley, the weight would be especially insignificant with your new 3/4 ton, and you would love the stability in every situation. It would have also made your towing experience with the Tahoe much more pleasant. That's based on my experience with both style hitches.

Nonetheless, one cannot deny the torque advantage of a diesel engine. That's quite a difference from the Tahoe you report and is what can be expected. Our Ram 5.7 is certainly weaker than the diesel, but not that much of a wimp. We'll probably be making that Phoenix to Flagstaff trip this winter, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. I definitely use the transmission on these grades but consider it more of a basic driving skill than a weakness of the truck.

doug
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:44 PM   #8
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Great read.... We are about to buy a f150 ecoboost how do we confirm it has the rgt tow package?

We will then buy a 34 airstream. I heard others pull with easily with a f150 ecoboost. Wounded if we should reconsider for a desil f250
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Old 09-01-2013, 05:15 PM   #9
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Hi Happydays,

The F150 towed the Airstream effortlessly. And it was comfortable and quiet (as quiet as any vehicle I've been in). Had I bought the shorter wheelbase (believe it's 145") we would still have it. Really impressed with the engine and transmission combination. The package we went with is called the max tow package.

Having said that, you would want to look at the numbers closely. Many on the forums are far more experienced that I, but a 34 AS is a lot of trailer for a 1/2 ton, even with the max tow package.

I learned the hard way that there is a big difference between what the spec is on paper and how it performs in the real world. I'd encourage you to investigate the F250 for a trailer of that size.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:05 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Happydays View Post
Great read.... We are about to buy a f150 ecoboost how do we confirm it has the rgt tow package?

We will then buy a 34 airstream. I heard others pull with easily with a f150 ecoboost. Wounded if we should reconsider for a desil f250
We pull a 34' 1984 International with a Honda Odyssey, fitted with a custom hitch and a transmission cooler. It has a comparable payload to the F150 (around 1400lbs) and the six cylinder overhead cam engine delivers ample power for our needs, 260hp.

Ontario is mostly rolling hills. On the highway we settle at 2000rpm at 65mph, at a fuel consumption that's rarely above 15mpg, slightly more if the wind is consistently against us. I am constantly amazed how often the green ECO light comes on, telling me the engine is now running on four cylinders.

All this not to convince you to buy a minivan, but to tell you the F150 should do just fine

Also, keep in mind that trailer length does not equate trailer weight. Our 34' weighs in at 6250lbs empty, with a tongue weight of just over 600lbs. That's considerably lighter than many shorter trailers manage.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:38 PM   #11
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Thanks for the comparison! Been researching TVs, want to replace our 2002 F150 for the same reason -- need more horses! Your recommendation fits what I've been thinking; hope it comes in Champagne Beige . . . The Little Woman loves that color. If she's happy, I'm happy.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:03 PM   #12
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We bought a 2013 F250 diesel last month and will be picking up our new Flying Cloud 30 next month. We love this truck even though we haven't pulled anything yet. It sounds like we made the right decision.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:15 AM   #13
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Yep, the difference between our GMC 1500 and the Silverado Durmax/Allison is night and day. Our experience parallels yours with the exception of the Hensley. We love our hitch system and the stability of it.
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Old 09-03-2013, 03:09 PM   #14
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Our 25 ft trailer pulls ok with our Jeep Commander and our old fashioned Reese hitch, but it could be better. We had transmission overheat problems on our Jeep going up hill and backing up hill into a campsite. We will have to rethink ... the TV.
Having a transmission cooler installed might be a LOT cheaper and effective. Also maybe an oil cooler.
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