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Old 06-24-2004, 10:51 AM   #1
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Question Towing Capacity of the 360

Does anyone know the towing capacity of the 360 motorhomes?

Now that the mechanicals on the 345 are getting there (last year) and we're back onto the interior changes (this year), we are beginning to plan long trips in our minds (Grand Canyon, Canada, Alaska) starting in 2005/2006 the subject of a suitable tow'd keeps coming up. Even this past weekend we were pretty "land locked" at the campground without a car.

While we love our 345 dearly and certainy intend to hold onto it for a while the 2000# towing limit is - well - limiting.

I could always trade my Jeep Grand Cherokee for a really small tow car (Saturn, Classic Beetle, etc.) but with five of us and a dog (our current headcount anyway) I'm worried about the long term practicality of the 345 platform for our future travel/camping needs.

PS - It hasn't helped that I've noticed a bunch of 360's for sale on RVTraderOnline lately and that always stirs my desire for the "bullet train".

(I'm secretly hoping someone will say it's 7000# on the 360 and I can finally justify buying one to the budgetary goddess! )
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Old 06-25-2004, 09:49 AM   #2
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Towing limits.

There are additional reasons for the smaller towing limits, on tag axle equipped motorhomes.

Additional loads from towing, are imposed on the tag axle.

To appreciably exceed the suggested towing limits, can have an adverse effect on the tag axle.

Andy

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Old 06-25-2004, 10:59 AM   #3
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Additional loads from towing, are imposed on the tag axle.
OK, I don't understand. Flat towing a 4 wheel vehicle shouldn't add but half the weight of the tow bar to the MH. Turning with a non lift tag adds huge stress to the axle and frame, but turning with the car shouldn't add much more as it is freewheeling and approximately follows the mh (admittedly there is some, but it has to be minimal compared to scuffing 2 heavily loaded tires across pavement). In sharp turns the tags leave marks on the pavement and my tags always wear much faster than the others. I have never seen marks from the toad. Any pulling/stopping stress will be on the frame. What am I missing?

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Old 06-25-2004, 11:25 AM   #4
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I can appreciate the loads placed on the tags, especially in their trailing configuration on the AS’s. Like John, I'm not sure I understand your comment.

Regardless of the effect of the tags on towing capacity; with a 2000# towing limit we’re restricted to a very lightweight [read small] car for towing. The pool of possible towd’s is reduced further given that any vehicle requiring a dolly only adds weight. So we would need a vehicle that can be towed “four down” which weighs under (or close to) 2000# and can carry five people and their “stuff” around. While there could be vehicles out there like this (Saturn or otherwise), I’m not terribly excited about changing my daily driver based entirely on my motorhome’s towing limitations.

My question had more to do with the evolution of the P30 chassis and AS’s modifications (extension of the chassis) to support larger platforms in the ten years between my 86 345 and let's say a 96 360. I have to believe that buyers of a premium motorhome (like the 360) would have similar issues regarding towing over this ten year span and began to pressure dealers and AS to increase the towing capacity of their motorized products.

We’ve all seen this evolution on modern RV platforms as consumer interest in multiple slide-out floorplans and towing capacity increased; both manufacturers and chassis suppliers responded to this demand to the point where the modern version of the P30 (Workhorse’s W24) has a 24,000 GVWR and a 6000# towing capacity.

I simply wondered if improvements had been made in the chassis/AS platform back in 96 which increase the towing capacity to something more realistic.
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Old 06-25-2004, 11:39 AM   #5
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So the ideal person to answer your question would be for the owner of a 1992-1996 36' classic to pop open their owners manual and give you the towing weight limit.

Since there are several for sale right now (kind of unusual), call a few of the sellers and have them fax you the page from their manual. I think your hunch is probably going to be correct in that towing four down is popular and they imporved the weight limits.

The TOAD limits have ALWAYS been a frequently asked question here and on my site.
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Old 06-25-2004, 11:45 AM   #6
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John.

It doesn't matter what any of us think "it ought to be."

What does matter is what the engineers determined, long ago.

I have chatted with some of them and they are very firm as to why the limitations.

But they also add, "if it's an Airstream owner, they will do what they want regardless of information anyways."

They refuse to budge from their specs.

So, it boils down to the individuals choices.

I can tell you that when the specs are grossly abused, a replacement tag axle won't be far off.

Sorry, it's not me, but it's the best info I can come up with for you.

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Old 06-25-2004, 01:05 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In
What does matter is what the engineers determined, long ago.

I have chatted with some of them and they are very firm as to why the limitations.

But they also add, "if it's an Airstream owner, they will do what they want regardless of information anyways."
JMHO- if you make a product grossly out of line with competing product specs and offer no explanation as to why, then owner's will do what they want; 'because' just doesn't cut it for me. So 2 suggestions for the AS engineering dept.- give us a logical explanation and your product won't be abused; dump the setup you use and go to something like a MOR/ryde that can handle a larger toad.

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Old 06-25-2004, 01:19 PM   #8
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Fred - point well taken. You are right about the number for sale right now. While I love my 345...the 360 has always captivated me. IMHO - it's the best looking MH ever built. Our TOAD conversations coupled with this flurry of 360's for sale prompted this post.

Andy - as Fred mentioned; I too have seen many other post regarding the limited towing capacity of the AS MH. Most people can't tell you why the AS's are limited to 2000#s. You seem to have some inside knowledge on this subject. Perhaps you could briefly share the engineering reasons behind what most of us think is a low rating.

I, for one, would not dare to exceed the capacity as designed. If it's 2000#s then thats what it is. But, for the sake of pure curiousity, how come we all see other, same year, SOBs on P30's towing Jeeps and Trucks and Bayliners?

Is that the SOB engineers were more agressive in their engineering, or they didn't mind pushing the spec's in order to market a product? Are the AS engineers more conservative in their rating or it's just that the SOB owners take a ""if the bumper isn't dragging then let's go" approach?
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Old 06-25-2004, 01:28 PM   #9
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Coloradobus - pretty sure the 360 gassers were on P30's. I think the diesel version may have been on a Spartan/Cummins pusher chassis.

There is another thread related to this which is discussing re-engineering/fabricating the extensions and hitch to increase the rating (Towing with a 28ft Classic MH ) but no one is exactly sure why the 2000# limit so it's hard to ask someone how to increase it. I think the popular opinion is that it has to do with the extensions to the P30 chassis made by AS.
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Old 06-25-2004, 01:36 PM   #10
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Of course I have seen a 325 towing a Jimmy (well over 2,000#) with two motor scooters on the hitch!

I also have a friend towing a Honda Odyssey with no brakes behind his motorhome. He's an accident waiting to happen.

I also saw a truck towing a 5'er that was towing a boat. How does that set-up handle emergency situations?

How safe are our roads?
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Old 06-25-2004, 01:41 PM   #11
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For the Airstream tag axle owners, it's the "moment arm."

For the other brands that use the same type setup, good luck in pushing or exceeding the OEM specs.

Specs are usually stated for two reasons.

One, to let the majority of owners know what not to exceed.

Two, to let some owners know what it is, so that they can make sure they exceed it, and then complain when problems occur. Certainly, some of these same select few, would not want to pay the difference, to have unlimited carrying capacity. Instead, it seems to be easier to ridicule the manufacturer.

For most of you, moment arm is a far removed spec from pulling weight.

Advertizing a pulling weight rating has nothing to do with moment arm.

It depends on how you "pull" it.

And of course, we must remember "safety."

Rumor has it here that some guy tried to steal the "Queen Mary," and haul it off with his motorhome (you know, the magic tow vehicle), but couldn't get the anchor to let go.

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Old 06-25-2004, 01:45 PM   #12
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Fred - I've seen a number of these "disaster's in waiting" going up and down I-65 on a weekly basis. Don't know about you but I've had to emergency stop the 345 once so far in Chattenooga when an SUV barrel rolled down the highway 50 feet in front of us. It was everything I could do to brake, maintain control, get into the breakdown lane and not hit anything else. If we had an overweight toad without supplemental brakes at the time we would have caused an even bigger accident.

Not sure if this one was over the "safety limit" but last week I saw a Forest River Tsunami towing a Hummer H2 behind it. Just to top it off they had a big Honda scooter on the hitch.
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Old 06-25-2004, 04:13 PM   #13
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I did have to emergency stop my 345 about 30 minutes after I bought it outside Atlanta. I have pretty strong legs and it took literally everything I had to stop that baby quickly! It ain't easy. I can't imagine doing that with a TOAD much less a TOAD without brakes.
FACTOR TO CONSIDER:
Hitch weight (not much of an issue with a four down toad)
*Hitch strength (and the supporting chassis)
*Transmission (cooling)
MH Brakes (TOAD brakes helps this issue)
MH Engine (454 is fairly strong)

I'm no engineer but the two key factors seem to be the transmission and the strength of the chassis/hitch. I seem to remember that someone had their hitch strengthend to handle their toad. How far off am I?
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Old 06-25-2004, 04:26 PM   #14
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I "think" you are on the money. I suspect the weak point is the Chassis/Hitch compounded by the lengthening of the original P30 chassis by AS. The engine/trans can work (they do on other MH's). An additional cooler, better converter, temp gauge, even a better trans can be added to supplement what is already there for the stock trans. Keeping in mind that our 454's are ALREADY towing a heavy load.

I would also add fatigue factors as none of us know how our Classic's were treated over the last 15 - 25 years. Was my 345 one of those MH's that tow a 6000# race car trailer to the track every weekend for ten years? No idea! What did that do to the chassis, hitch, and tags?

Makes me want to bolt my 345 onto a Workhorse Chassis

Interesting side note here: Cruise America is the largest RV Rental company in the US. They used to sell off their 36 to 48 month old Class C's to keep up the quality of the fleet. Then they figured out that they could swap chassis. Now the remove the "box", refresh it with updates and repairs and bolt it onto a new Chassis. the old chassis is then fitted with a flatbed or dump body and sold to landscapers/contractors.

Hmmm....you thinkin what I'm thinkin? Monaco with a Kitchen Fire at Colaw's + Airstream 345 =
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Old 06-25-2004, 05:12 PM   #15
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seriously? They swap the chassis out...thats wild. Who'd a thunk it?
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Old 06-25-2004, 06:26 PM   #16
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Alan - seriously. Big article about it in this months RVBusiness magazine (I'm such an RV dork).

They contracted Thor to build them special units which facilitate the chassis swap. They'll be buying over 1000 units from Thor this year so I guess they can get their way. They realized that the average consumer measured the quality of the unit by the year and mileage of the van - not the box. So the refit the box and it keeps on going.

Modular RV's - now there is a great concept!
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Old 06-26-2004, 07:36 AM   #17
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Biggest "Toad Load" I saw this winter in Florida was, I believe a Cummins powered Intruder MH, pulling a full size extended cab Chevy Silverado, with a golf cart in the bed AND a full size motorcycle on the pickup's hitch carrier. The owner said it gets 10 mpg with or without the toad!
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Old 06-26-2004, 11:49 AM   #18
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Additional load limit info

There are many other considerations that must be met, when towing any weight over the recommended limits, with a motorhome.

We not only have the moment arm factor, but we also have how the hitch was attached to the frame, or even possibly a frame extension.

Considerations must also be given to the capacity of the rear end, the drive shaft bearings, the transmission, and any coller that it might have, and the ability of the radiator and it's cooling fan or fans to handle the additional heat.

All of these items are factored into the maximum towing limits. Ignoring any one let alone more than one of them, could lead to an expensive, time consuming repair job, not at home, but on a trip.

Be safe.

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Old 06-29-2004, 12:04 PM   #19
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Unhappy Still 2000 pounds

I wanted to report my findings so far. While I've received a few different reports about towing capacity on the 360 - I received an email from Airstream today that confirms the towing capacity remained at 2000#'s on the 94, 95 & 96 models. Unforetunately there was no additional information given as to the reasons for the limit.

Sadly, this is the only car I can safely tow behind the motorhome
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Old 06-29-2004, 02:02 PM   #20
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Calculated risk. People do it all the time. Stay as close as you can.

Look for a late 80's Honda Accord with a stick shift. We picked one up for $1,000. Has seating for 5 but very light weight. 86-89 are about 2500lb. My 11 year old is reasonably comfee in the back seat if the front seats or up a couple clicks. 31mpg is what I get hwy out of it all the time. Other then a major tune up including a timing belt and O2 sensor I have put very little into the car and happily going with 210,000 miles and burns no oil. Leaks some but doesn't burn it.

http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/gener...9/article.html

Fold up headlights for them rocks kicked off the tires. A/C is great when it works (compressor just ate it on ours). It's a hair over the weight but it's about as close as you can get for 5 people and a bargin of a car.
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