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Old 06-04-2020, 07:45 AM   #1
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2020 25' Flying Cloud
Chapel Hill , North Carolina
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Steep Driveway with awkward starting pitch

My wife and I are in the market for a new Airstream, 22fb/23fb but before we pull the trigger, we are trying to figure out if we can back the trailer up the driveway... TV is going to be a Toyota Tacoma with a V6.


I've included some pictures of the driveway... it's a pretty steep driveway overall, but the first part has a shallow pitch that transitions rather abruptly into a steeper pitch. I was thinking some type of ramp might be needed... any advice is appreciated. We would really like to store the trailer here since we have the room, we just need to get over this issue.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:51 AM   #2
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Hire a contractor and have them level the area. You certainly don't want it to bottom out or drag the bumper.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:54 AM   #3
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Is that dip intentional or did the driveway settle there over time? If it settled then "mudjacking" or the modern equivalent using polyurethane foam injection to raise it up might be the answer. Just had a walkway done and it worked out great.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:58 AM   #4
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Can't really tell from here, but perhaps you just need a little help for the transition. Before I spent some money, I would get a couple of 2x6x8s and see if that would serve as enough of a ramp.

Good luck in your search. be sure to use the excellent classifieds on this site. And come back and post often.

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Old 06-04-2020, 08:02 AM   #5
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Rent or borrow a boat or flat bed trailer similar in length to the Airstream you would like to purchase. PVC pipes go a long way to mimicking the size and exact clearances. To be honest that driveway looks tough but hard to be definitive from photos.
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Old 06-04-2020, 08:10 AM   #6
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WD hitch could be the only problem?

If you are backing in and use weight distribution WD disconnect the WD so you don't put excessive stress on the hitch. If that gives the clearance you need so the TV doesn't scrape IMO you will be OK.
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Old 06-04-2020, 08:29 AM   #7
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A bit of trigonometry will easily determine if you have a problem. I have done some detailed numbers on my 25' and noted the 27 and 28's are a bit less tolerant of grade changes, the 23' is a bit more tolerant. Your driveway adds a bit of a wrinkle because you have multiple grade changes. Generally, a 22/23 will navagate a 15-16% swale grade change and a 8-9% ridge, you have one of each. So go measure your grade changes. Use a 10 foot run out as that is the general distance between wheels and low points. If your grade is close to my general guidance I'd be happy to sharpen my pencil and give you better numbers.

If you don't have the clearance, should be about $2,000 to fix that. Or you can stock up on some plywood and let the plywood take the hit if it is close, or you could lift the trailer by 3 inches for $1,000. Less if you do it yourself.
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Old 06-04-2020, 08:37 AM   #8
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Steep driveways

My driveway appears even steeper than yours. We had a 2017 23D and it would BARELY clear when pulling up and backing down the driveway. Sold the 23D, bought a 2019 FC 25'. Installed the Dexter lift kit before I even tried to get up driveway. No problem. Great clearance. I think the FC 25 actually sat a little higher than the 23D did even without the lift.

You can add a lift to either trailer your considering. I will add this, your going to be really maxed out towing a 23fb with a Tacoma. It will do it but it won't be fun. The first good long hill you have to climb will have that V-6 downshifting and running high RPM's to make it to the top. The tandem axle 23fb will be easier to back up. The single axle 22 will take more patience and practice in reverse.

If possible you may want to rent a 23' Airstream and tow it around a bit. See if you and your truck is happy with it. Happy travels.
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Old 06-04-2020, 08:44 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
I will add this, your going to be really maxed out towing a 23fb with a Tacoma. It will do it but it won't be fun. The first good long hill you have to climb will have that V-6 downshifting and running high RPM's to make it to the top. The tandem axle 23fb will be easier to back up. The single axle 22 will take more patience and practice in reverse.

If possible you may want to rent a 23' Airstream and tow it around a bit. See if you and your truck is happy with it. Happy travels.

If not the Tacoma, what would you recommend? Maybe the Ford Ranger at around 7,000? or something more like a Tundra at 10,000 towing capacity?
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:43 AM   #10
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I installed a 3" lift on my trailer, which allows me to pull into my steep driveway without difficulty. Gone are the days of using my homemade stacked 2x12 "ramps". Good riddance to them!

My trailer is a bit longer than yours, so this solution worked for me (and it was cheaper than fixing the pitch of the street/driveway). Could this option help you?
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:48 AM   #11
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What besides a Tacoma

The Taco is a really great truck. Rated for I think around 6800 LBS towing. But, you have to look at all the specs. GCVWR,(total weight of truck/trailer together all loaded up), Front and rear axle ratings, and payload capacity. Allow a 15% safety margin on the tow rating. That takes the Taco down to 5700 LBS.

You like Toyota. Take a look at a properly equipped Tundra. It would easily pull either a 22' or 23' AS. Now, with the Tundra you have to pay attention to the Payload or cargo capacity rating. The more options and the higher the trim level the lower the payload/cargo capacity. Many folks tow with the Tundra and love them.

The Ford Ranger/Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon/Nissan Frontier get you just about what you currently have. You probably like the smaller, easier to drive around town size of your Taco. You will be way safer, more relaxed, and ahead of the game with a Tundra or other brand 1/2 ton truck. Besides, your only going to have your 22' or 23' AS a couple of years before 2 foot it is sets in and you want a 25' AS!! with the Tundra your probably safe to tow that one also. Like I mentioned in earlier post, started with a 23D, went to a FC 25 in 2 years. Loved the 23dD, but the FC 25 is way, way, way better.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:48 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
I installed a 3" lift on my trailer, which allows me to pull into my steep driveway without difficulty. Gone are the days of using my homemade stacked 2x12 "ramps". Good riddance to them!

My trailer is a bit longer than yours, so this solution worked for me (and it was cheaper than fixing the pitch of the street/driveway). Could this option help you?

Possibly... I'm guessing the dealer is not going to be willing to install a lift since it might void the warranty, yes?
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:52 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
The Taco is a really great truck. Rated for I think around 6800 LBS towing. But, you have to look at all the specs. GCVWR,(total weight of truck/trailer together all loaded up), Front and rear axle ratings, and payload capacity. Allow a 15% safety margin on the tow rating. That takes the Taco down to 5700 LBS.

You like Toyota. Take a look at a properly equipped Tundra. It would easily pull either a 22' or 23' AS. Now, with the Tundra you have to pay attention to the Payload or cargo capacity rating. The more options and the higher the trim level the lower the payload/cargo capacity. Many folks tow with the Tundra and love them.

The Ford Ranger/Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon/Nissan Frontier get you just about what you currently have. You probably like the smaller, easier to drive around town size of your Taco. You will be way safer, more relaxed, and ahead of the game with a Tundra or other brand 1/2 ton truck. Besides, your only going to have your 22' or 23' AS a couple of years before 2 foot it is sets in and you want a 25' AS!! with the Tundra your probably safe to tow that one also. Like I mentioned in earlier post, started with a 23D, went to a FC 25 in 2 years. Loved the 23dD, but the FC 25 is way, way, way better.

Thanks and I don't actually have a TV yet... gotta make that happen too. So I've been looking at the Tacoma mostly, but I'm pretty open to what will haul things safely. I can afford a really nice Tacoma or a modest Tundra ($30K-$40K budget) Seems like the Tundra might be the better bet long term. It's also going to be my daily driver, but now I'm working from home indefintely.... so local gas mileage is less of a concern. Won't be forever, but will be for awhile.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:56 AM   #14
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Possibly... I'm guessing the dealer is not going to be willing to install a lift since it might void the warranty, yes?
In very generic terms, the "lift kit" is a set of spacers that increase the distance of the axle(s) from the bottom of the trailer. All other components (suspension, etc.) remain the same. A lift has no implications on the warranty. In fact, Jackson Center will do the work if you want.
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Old 06-04-2020, 10:06 AM   #15
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Before you decide on the tow vehicle, Here is a plan that works:

Decide firmly on the trailer. Next estimate the tow vehicle cargo. Most campers will haul anywhere from 800-1200 in the tow vehicle after including fuel, passengers and camping stuff. Figure the optional equipment will add another 140-200 lbs to payload and then add the net tongue weight which is usually about 130-220 more than the base weight. Now choose a vehicle that fits within these numbers. If you are firmly considering 22-23' many SUV's can haul these confidently and will be a nice everyday vehicle. Payload volume is the main issue.
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Old 06-04-2020, 11:34 AM   #16
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We have a '16 22FB and I installed the lift kit which gave us 3" additional lift at the rear. It made a significant difference. It's just the two of us but we love "Susie's Glamper"!
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Old 06-04-2020, 12:30 PM   #17
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The Tacoma is a great truck but too small for a 25 (or even 23 foot Airstream). Don't swap for another mini truck. Go for a half ton (Tundra, Ram, F150).

A double axle trailer will go over your 'dip' better than a single axle on the same size trailer. Will keep bumper slightly higher all the way through. But do consider leveling out or filling the 'dip' (but your county may not like it if water drains out into roadway).

Tricks -

1. Rent the same trailer and take it home to see if you actually have a problem. The dealer may have a used one on lot they can help out with.

2. Use a drop hitch to lower the front of trailer. Back end will rise by approximately 1/3 of the drop. If that works, you can actually have a second hitch for driveway purposes nearly all the way to ground. A pain to change out but not too difficult.

3. A Dexter lift kit is an option.

4. If it were an older trailer which needs new axles, you could replace the stock ones with ones having a steeper down angle (32 degrees rather than 22 stock). That would give you an extra 2 - 3 inches without needing a lift kit.
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Old 06-04-2020, 12:43 PM   #18
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Dealer installed Dexter lift kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrice View Post
Possibly... I'm guessing the dealer is not going to be willing to install a lift since it might void the warranty, yes?
Most, not all, dealers can or will install a Dexter lift kit on your AS. Cost for the kit is around $300.00 for a tandem axle and will be around $1000.00 installed. It is approved by AS and does not effect the warranty.

The dealer we purchased our 2019 FC 25 scoffed at the idea of the lift kit on an AS. Now, this is a highly respected AS dealer selling since 1964. Sooo….I ordered the parts and put it on myself. I am real good with a wrench. Still took me all day with a helper and only after watching several videos on install. If your not so mechanically inclined I suggest you have it installed.

If your budget limited for your tow vehicle consider buying a used 2/3 year old Tundra. There have been no major changes in past few years of this model. They are ready for a full redesign and update. However, a properly equipped 2/3 year old Tundra may be an option. Make sure it has a Factory Tow Pkg. Ask to see a copy of the original MSRP sticker so you can confirm equipment. Check the drivers door jamb stickers for Payload/cargo rating and axle weight ratings to insure your not getting one of the models with a ton of heavy options that rob you of payload/cargo capacity. Nothing wrong with buying used if you are careful and savvy about equipment. Do some homework. Look at some youtube videos about late model tundra towing capabilities. Major purchase. Get it right the first time. Happy hunting.
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Old 06-04-2020, 02:21 PM   #19
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I have a similar problem with my driveway and a 28' Airstream. There is swale followed by a ridge.

I use a second hitch just for the driveway. It adjusts up/down easily. As I back, the tires go into the swale, causing the the bumper to drag on the ridge, so I start with the hitch low. After the bumper clears the ridge, the tires drop further into the swale until the tongue drags on the ridge. I chock the tires, reposition the hitch up high so the tongue now clears over the ridge.

Meanwhile, the neighbors have to drive around the block until I get done.


As for tow vehicle, you will get lots of advice here! I had a tacoma years ago, and it was a great truck, but I think the others are right, you should go to a 1/2 ton. Be careful to do all the math, payload etc.

When I bought the 28', I also bought a Tundra to tow it. Great truck but not big enough for the trailer. It worked, but wasn't very reassuring in the hills. I didn't do all the math, and even though it was within the tow capacity it exceeded payload. Sort of white knuckles.

I traded for a 3/4 ton (F250 diesel), and what a difference! Quiet, never strains going up or down hills, stops on a ... well not on a dime, but stops quickly enough.
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Old 06-04-2020, 02:36 PM   #20
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Towing with Ford F250

Quote:
Originally Posted by pwlldvd View Post
I have a similar problem with my driveway and a 28' Airstream. There is swale followed by a ridge.

I use a second hitch just for the driveway. It adjusts up/down easily. As I back, the tires go into the swale, causing the the bumper to drag on the ridge, so I start with the hitch low. After the bumper clears the ridge, the tires drop further into the swale until the tongue drags on the ridge. I chock the tires, reposition the hitch up high so the tongue now clears over the ridge.

Meanwhile, the neighbors have to drive around the block until I get done.


As for tow vehicle, you will get lots of advice here! I had a tacoma years ago, and it was a great truck, but I think the others are right, you should go to a 1/2 ton. Be careful to do all the math, payload etc.

When I bought the 28', I also bought a Tundra to tow it. Great truck but not big enough for the trailer. It worked, but wasn't very reassuring in the hills. I didn't do all the math, and even though it was within the tow capacity it exceeded payload. Sort of white knuckles.

I traded for a 3/4 ton (F250 diesel), and what a difference! Quiet, never strains going up or down hills, stops on a ... well not on a dime, but stops quickly enough.
Do not want to hijack post, but....Currently tow 2019 FC 25 RBT with 2013 Ford E150 XLT Premium van with Max Tow/Payload Pkg (8600 GVW, 2520 LBS payload, 14000 LBS GCVWR). Tows great. When we go to a FC 30' in a couple years my truck of choice will be a F250 Club Cab, 6 1/2 ft bed, 2WD with the 7.3 gasser. Saving my pennies!
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