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Old 10-05-2011, 08:56 AM   #15
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2005 25' Safari
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I hear you on the weight.

You may want to check out Earthbound trailers to see if they're lighter. Perhaps you will find them interesting.

Quite a few of us are towing late model 25' Airstreams with the most capable half ton trucks/ suvs. I have no concerns about the way mine pulls.

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Old 10-05-2011, 09:05 AM   #16
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1959 17' Pacer
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Originally Posted by Nuvite-F
If light weight is important to you there are some models to meet that requirement.

Our 22 foot 1980 International Caravelle was a lightweight for its model year, only 7 1/2 feet wide and 4,000 pounds gross weight.

The 2011 22 foot Safari Sport is comparable in both width and weight--4,500 pounds gross weight. Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

On the other hand, a current model 25 foot Flying Cloud is 8 1/2 feet wide and runs 7,300 pounds gross weight Airstream, Inc :: Specifications

So, as always, "you pays your money and you takes your choice".

In general the reason trailers have gotten heavier over the years is that buyers expect more stuff in them--capacious water and waste tanks, big batteries for boondocking endurance, microwaves, large screen TV's, etc.

Our Caravelle has a 25 gallon fresh water tank, 15 gallon gray and black water tanks, and a single 90 Amp-hour battery. (We do have a microwave, though.)
If you really want light, you can go back even farther. The stated OEM weight of our 1959 Pacer 18' model was 2130 lbs. But it only had- a bed, sofa, sink, stove, fridge, closet, and toilet. Imagine that...

Talk about America having obesity issues. Sounds like Thor needs a tummy tuck.

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Old 10-05-2011, 10:07 AM   #17
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This comes up fairly regularly.

In broad terms the weight changes are not significant when comparing similarly sized and equipped trailers.

The first fact to consider is that the change to wide-body trailers for the longer lengths in the late 1980s added significant interior space and along with it increased the weight as a result of everything being larger. A modern 27' trailer has more usable space than a 30' trailer from the 1970s era.

The second fact to consider is that the historical base weights did not include features that were optional at the time of manufacture. The largest and most obvious example is the air conditioner. But, especially in the earliest years, things like the second propane tank, awnings, the water heater, the audio system, and the spare tire were optional extras. In some smaller early trailers the water heater and fridge were optional as well.

Thirdly, particularly in the 25'-30' range, early trailers had structural problems that resulted from the frame being built too light. Fixing this involved adding more metal and more weight, both in the process of repairing trailers that showed the problem and in making manufacturing changes to prevent it in the future.

Finally, in recognition of the typical real-world axle loads and to support the addition of a greywater tank, Airstream added axle capacity in the 1980s and 1990s. The larger axles, brakes, wheels, and tires added to the overall base weight.

So, I don't think it's really about the cabinetry though that does play a minor role. When you compare the scale weights of old and new trailers of comparable size and features, the differences are minor.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:12 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Jim & Susan View Post
The main point is that as time goes by, all campers get heavier, regardless of who built them.

I certainly did!
If it's to be, it's up to me.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:52 AM   #19
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whatelse would we do with 800lbs of torque in today's new trucks...
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Old 10-05-2011, 12:29 PM   #20
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The greater hitch weights of the Airstreams seems to me to be the bigger problem. They are much greater than 10% of trailer weight, and a lot of tow capacity ratings are specified using that 10% metric.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:12 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by easplund View Post
The greater hitch weights of the Airstreams seems to me to be the bigger problem. They are much greater than 10% of trailer weight, and a lot of tow capacity ratings are specified using that 10% metric.

Looking at the specs on, I am guessing you are comparing unit base weight to the Hitch weight( w.o LP options water or Cargo).

When you are towing your Airstream to use it, neither of those numbers has much significance. Under actual use you have a great deal of control over what percentage the hitch weight is of the total weight, by how you to choose to load the trailer. Where you put the heaviest items etc. If you feel you have too much hitch weight, move heavier items toward the rear. On our trailer for instance, most of the storage is in the rear of the trailer, so when we use it the actual hitch weight percentage will go down if we don't take care with what goes where.

Now, if you use a weight distribution hitch as many do, then that is a whole different set of calculations.

This is why published numbers are misleading and why accurate scale weights of both truck axles and the trailer are necessary to keep within the safe limits when fully loaded. I am not saying to weigh it every time you tow it. Just weigh it once as you typically tow it. From there you can intutively figure out what differences minor changes will cause.

My understanding is that current towing advice says from 10% to 15% and it is better to be a little high than any low.

Since you will select a tow vehicle that can tow your trailer fully loaded, it does not matter what percentage (within reason) the hitch weight is when the trailer is empty as long as it is above 10%.

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Old 10-05-2011, 01:28 PM   #22
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It is funny how technology has gotten better as far as strength to weight ratios but the trailers are heavier. I think a lot of it maybe the use of particle board instead of plywood and maybe also the use of actual wood cabinets similar to what is in your kitchen at home. The older trailers had laun plywood and tambour cabinet doors which was very light compared to conventional wood cabinet contruction. Corian counter tops etc are heavy. The other ironic thing is tow vehicles are getting smaller and less able to carry heavy loads. Once the 2500 Suburbans are gone, you are stuck with a full size pickup. The newer trailers are nice but there is a price. I am sure older trailers rebuilt to modern standards are much heavier as well.

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Old 10-05-2011, 02:01 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by worldinchaos View Post
If you really want light, you can go back even farther. The stated OEM weight of our 1959 Pacer 18' model was 2130 lbs. But it only had- a bed, sofa, sink, stove, fridge, closet, and toilet. Imagine that...
Yeah--our 1960 Pacer 16 footer only weighed 1760 pounds gross. But no shower, no A/C, no microwave--not even an oven, just the stove top. Fifteen gallon fresh water tank, 7 gallon black tank, and no gray tank. And as it came from the factory, no coach battery. (We added one.) We enjoyed traveling in the Pacer for several years, but wanted a few more creature comforts, so we snapped up the1980 Caravelle when some friends decided to sell it.

And, very significantly, I never noticed any difference in towing mileage between the two trailers. Our 1994 half ton pickup truck got 19-20 MPG not towing (overdrive engaged) but only 10 MPG towing either trailer (overdrive disengaged). I think the air resistance is more significant than the weight in most situations.

Conversely our 2009 half ton pickup truck also gets 19-20 MPG when not towing, but 12-14 MPG towing either trailer. In the 2009 you don't disengage the overdrive when towing, you push a button to tell the computer you are towing. It juggles the transmission shift points and who knows what else, resulting in a significant improvement in towing mileage.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:23 PM   #24
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Streamline used all-aluminum cabinetry. No rot, adds structural strength -- rivetted in place, no screws, no staples -- and weighs a great deal less than alternative materials. Sad it wasn't/isn't used by other trailer makers.

A/S is too heavy compared to what it should be. There's no way a 9,000-lb trailer of this design (semi-monococque) is a good idea without a complete re-design. I had "difficulty" getting our '34 Silver Streak much above 7k loaded heavy for full-timing.

Weight is it's own penalty after awhile. Aerodynamics means more outside of mountainous terrain and stop-n-go, but there is a reasonable limit somewhere for what should constitute a high end travel trailer, IMO.

1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
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Old 10-08-2011, 10:05 AM   #25
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It's not just the trailers. Believe it or not a brand new Ford Taurus weights more than a 1964 Ford Galaxie, 427 V8 and all.
Living in the trailer park of sense, looking out the window at a tornado of stupidity.
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Old 02-28-2012, 08:38 AM   #26
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Got a question on 25' from the trailer weights pdf. of Airslide. What is the difference between a 25A and a 25B?
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Old 03-10-2012, 10:29 AM   #27
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Interesting thread! I read this some time ago, and reread it again just now. In our case, gross weight is less of an issue that carrying capacity, since we're looking at a full-time coach. We'll buy a truck for a tow vehicle if we decide on an Airstream.

As far as the tambour door, Corian countertops, etc., those are individual taste questions. Someone who has the money to order a new coach should be able to equip it with lightweight items or heavier ones according to their own tastes. Those of us who buy used coaches either take what's there or keep looking.

Personally, I like the tambour doors, not because they are lighter, but because they don't try to close automatically when my hand is in the way. I wonder how hard it would be to put them on a coach that has the auto-close cabinet doors, and how much weight would actually be saved.

David Lininger, kb0zke
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