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Old 10-15-2004, 12:05 AM   #1
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RV Consumer Group Safety Rating

I'm planning on getting a 25' International CCD. I was just looking at some travel trailer ratings done by the RV Consumer Group. The 25' came in with very low high way safety ratings, 35 out of a possible 100. They say that below 70 would be considered unadvisable. Most of the AS models were below 70. Does anybody know about this? Can you explain it to me.? I thought the aerodynamic shape and low placement of the holding tanks made AS a particularly safe and easy trailer to pull.
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:19 AM   #2
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Is this a trade organization? Do you have a reference so those interested can see what they are using to rate trailers and if they did tests. Remember when Comsumer Reports had trouble rolling the SUV and the test team leader got really mad and drove it himself. He finally got it up on two wheels and the film crew cheered. I love unbais research. As soon as I find some I'll let everyone know.
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:38 AM   #3
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I'd also like to see the data. Do you have a url?
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:56 AM   #4
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The RV Consumer Group has a webpage. But it appears all their information is for sale only.

Hopefully, Hit'the'road can share the highlights of the purchased data with us.

I am curious too.

Tom
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I'd also like to see the data. Do you have a url?
I think it is rv group . I found the site by going to Google. They rate on a 1-100 scale. You have to by the CD to get the info.

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Old 10-15-2004, 07:52 AM   #6
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It is my understanding that one of the main factors used by this group to rate safety is the "cargo carrying capacity" of the unit. Airstream trailers, by design, have a far lower cargo carrying capacity than most RVs. This is apparently interpreted by the "group" as a design flaw affecting safety - i.e., the trailer can be easily overloaded, or improperly loaded. That said, weight and balance, fore and aft as well as side-to-side, must definitely be considered when loading an Airstream - not unlike loading cargo in a plane. Most Airstream owners find the CCC of their trailers to be adequate - even though the later models have less capacity due to the use of corian countertops, solid Oak cabinety, and other creature comforts not found on older units. Once properly loaded, towing an Airstream, with a vehicle and other equipment matched to the task, is an absolute joy!

On the other hand, if you seriously need to carry 3,500 lbs of cargo, there are trailers out there (i.e. - "SOBs") that are up to the task!
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:15 AM   #7
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I did purchase the information. They don't give very complete explanations. The 2005 25' CCD SS (what is SS anyway?) got a highway control rating of 35 out of 100.

This is what the RV Consumer Group says in general about that rating,
Quote:
"We consider all safety ratings under 60 as being substandard and possibly dangerous for travel under average highway conditions. We recommend only purchasing RVs with minimum ratings of 70. Highway control ratings are based on the assumptions that the engineering of the RV has allowed for proper balance by placing fresh, gray and black water holding tanks in locations that will not change the balance ot the RV when the tanks are empty or full."
I can't find any other explanation. I was really surprised. I expected Airstream to be at the top of the list. In their star ratings the 25' CCD got 0 out of 5 stars. The 16', 19', and 22' all got 1.5 stars. They had highway control ratings ranging from 56-58.

Any ideas what this means? Is there something about the 25' CCD that makes it difficult to tow? Has anybody had problems towing? Excessive sway, etc?
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:17 AM   #8
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RV Consumer Group is not so much a group as it is a person - who makes his living selling the ratings books and CDs. He has taken on an impossible task - to rate the safety, reliability, and value of the thousands of RV's on the market.

He conducts no tests. He relies entirely on information provided or published by RV manufacturers. Very few manufacturers co-operate with him and consiquently his data is freqently in error, irrelevant, or out of date. Mind you, I do not mean this critically; I believe he does the best he can with what he has to work with. My bigger problem is his basic premise that he can presume to rate RVs working from such limited data.

Airstream has an unexcelled record extending decades longer than any other RV builder. The low center of gravity, independent rubber torsion suspension, aerodynamic shape, and the strength of its monocoque construction make them second to none for towing. Which is not to say that they cannot make a mistake: the front kitchen coach back in the 90's was initially a disaster due to poor weight and balance issues. And for all I know there may be models in the line right now that do not have good weight distribution. But historically, they have been truly excellent.

Airstream could certainly stand to provide better weight and balance data, however. Raw numbers such as appear in their litterature is of limited help. How was tongue weight determined? With or without fresh water in the tanks? With or without full lp tanks? What is tongue weight with a reasonable distribution of weight in the various storage areas? No manufacturer could provide data for every contingency, but they could certainly give prospective buyers more than they get at present.

Mark
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:33 AM   #9
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So how does one go about learning how to properly load the AS so as to avoid problems? Does this mean no cast iron skillets and only paper plates? Only put your socks in the aft underbed storage?

I thought RVing was supposed to be relaxing. Between trying to get the right tow vehicle, financing all these purchases and learning of potential towing disaster due to bad weight and balance, I'm getting ready to stay home. I'm changing my login name to stay'at'home.
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Old 10-15-2004, 08:39 AM   #10
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SS stands for six sleeper (in Airstream lingo....in GM land it stands for Super Sport!)

As for thie individual, if he does no testing, has no exp towing an Airstream, I'd be reluctant to rely on any data provided.

I appreciate you sharing what you have. I think however, that I'm gonna rely on folks here and my own personal exp having owned and towed two different Airstreams loaded as I needed. All in all I've had not one single problem towing an Airstream fully loaded. As a matter of fact, as I get closer to the max GVW, the coach actually tows better. Seriously.

By no means am I on the Airstream mountian top, singing the praises. There are faults, however, towing has never been one of those faults.
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Old 10-15-2004, 09:18 AM   #11
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Mark has a lot of good points. Even though tongue weight is not a problem for me - with my tow vehicle - I find that it is somewhat difficult to load my 30' Excella to place more weight to the rear. When I weighed the trailer last month, ready for the road, with a half-tank of water on board, and empty holding tanks, I had 900 pounds on the hitch and a net weight of 8,140 pounds. The 2000 Excella has a maximum loaded weight of 8,300 pounds. I have everything on board that I need or want - but aside from moving canned goods to storage under the rear Queen bed, it's hard to put more weight aft on the axles. Note that the weight on the axles is 7,240 pounds (---I believe that they are rated for 4,000 pounds each???) Again, with my truck, the weight on the hitch is somewhat of a blessing - but it may begin to get a bit heavy for other vehicles. I use a load-equalizing type hitch, but very lightly applied. When I weighed, hooked to the tow vehicle, I showed very little weight transfer to the trailer axles, or to the front axle on the truck (---I had prior weight data for the truck's front axle.) The tongue weight comes from my Sherline tongue scale.

Again, you have to pay reasonable attention to the proper loading of an Airstream. I think that most AS enthusiasts accept this trait as normal. If you simply want to toss cargo in at random, ignoring the trailer weight, and the weight on the tow vehicle, an Airstream may not be the right choice.
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Old 10-15-2004, 09:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j54mark
He conducts no tests. He relies entirely on information provided or published by RV manufacturers.
Mark
He also relies on self selecting consumers for part of his analysis. Which is even worse than manufacturer's info. If you look at the survey, he groups product by 'brand' and 'manufacturer' and then averages the brand and manufacturer score along with the consumer satisfaction score. So, one third of the score is the manufacturer score for all 'Thor' products.

It would make more sense to use 'Airstream' as the manufacturer and 'CCD, or Classic' as the brand, to get a pure read of the Airstream quality, but that isn't the way his survey is structured.

So if 1/3 of the rating is based on all 'Thor' products, and 1/3 is based on self selecting consumers (and we know how 'picky' airstream owners are), then I doubt the results have much real world validity.

Still, I applaud the guy for making the effort.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:14 AM   #13
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I was under the impression that you weren't suppose to load up south of the axles. I've always kept the bulk of the CCC weight on the axles and north of the axles. I do have some stuff south of the axles, but I would guess not more than 50-75lbs.

Hitch weight isn't an issue to me.
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Old 10-15-2004, 11:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker
Mark has a lot of good points. Even though tongue weight is not a problem for me - with my tow vehicle - I find that it is somewhat difficult to load my 30' Excella to place more weight to the rear. When I weighed the trailer last month, ready for the road, with a half-tank of water on board, and empty holding tanks, I had 900 pounds on the hitch and a net weight of 8,140 pounds. The 2000 Excella has a maximum loaded weight of 8,300 pounds. I have everything on board that I need or want - but aside from moving canned goods to storage under the rear Queen bed, it's hard to put more weight aft on the axles. Note that the weight on the axles is 7,240 pounds (---I believe that they are rated for 4,000 pounds each???) Again, with my truck, the weight on the hitch is somewhat of a blessing - but it may begin to get a bit heavy for other vehicles. I use a load-equalizing type hitch, but very lightly applied. When I weighed, hooked to the tow vehicle, I showed very little weight transfer to the trailer axles, or to the front axle on the truck (---I had prior weight data for the truck's front axle.) The tongue weight comes from my Sherline tongue scale.

Again, you have to pay reasonable attention to the proper loading of an Airstream. I think that most AS enthusiasts accept this trait as normal. If you simply want to toss cargo in at random, ignoring the trailer weight, and the weight on the tow vehicle, an Airstream may not be the right choice.
I don't understand why you want less weight up front, seems to me you need more weight up front to get the 12 - 15% of trailer weight. That is one heavy unit. Ever consider a vintage
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Old 10-15-2004, 02:26 PM   #15
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Granted, I only have 11% of my net weight trailer weight on the hitch - and per the 12% to 15% guideline I could still go another 96 pounds just to make 12%. With my equalizer bars lightly loaded I'm awfully close to using the truck hitch as a "dead load" hitch - with a maximum rated capacity of 1,000 lbs. (---per GM.) The front axle on the truck (exclusive of the trailer), per scale weight, only has about a 400 lb reserve with just my wife and I in the front seat. The absolute most I would ever want to do with the equalizer bars is to "re-load" the front axle - adding no additional weight.

The truck weighs, with onboard cargo, right at 8360 lbs - or almost exactly the same as the trailer. I was surprised to find that the truck's front axle had such a low reserve capacity (---too much Duramax, Allison, 4WD,and gadgets!!!) With that in mind, I have looked carefully to see how I could keep the hitch weight under 1,000 pounds and continue using the equalizer bars lightly loaded. I've heard the comment Silvertwinkie made about loading behind the axle - but I do believe that cautionary note is more in line with creating "too light" of a hitch load versus keeping the hitch load within limits. The 12% to !5% hitch weight is probably an excellent recommendation in most cases - and I'm sure that it is based on more credible experience than anything I might offer.

Are we having fun yet???
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Old 10-15-2004, 03:12 PM   #16
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Exclamation

Please indulge my opinion here. Based on 25+ years of towing many different trailers, holding a 'fully-endorced' CDL-A, talking to & being with WBCCI experienced members, & about 10K miles with the 25' Safari in tow...:'Hit-the-Road' & enjoy. Our A/S Safari 25' is one of the most stable trailers I've ever towed. With a F-250 C.C./Short Bed/7.3L P.S.Diesel, Brakesmart controller, & W.D. hitch w/single-side friction sway the Airstream is a "joy" to pull anywhere we want to go with no trepidation about towing safety.

Yes, A/S is not a perfect product (there are some 'fit & finish' issues with ours), what is?. I have no concerns, beyond my own operation (& the fools who sometimes share the road with me!), that my 25' A/S-Safari design is going to be the root cause of an incident.

This may not be the empirical data you are looking for, but it my strong, not so wet-behind-the-ears, opinion !
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Old 10-15-2004, 05:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker
Granted, I only have 11% of my net weight trailer weight on the hitch - and per the 12% to 15% guideline I could still go another 96 pounds just to make 12%. With my equalizer bars lightly loaded I'm awfully close to using the truck hitch as a "dead load" hitch - with a maximum rated capacity of 1,000 lbs. (---per GM.) The front axle on the truck (exclusive of the trailer), per scale weight, only has about a 400 lb reserve with just my wife and I in the front seat. The absolute most I would ever want to do with the equalizer bars is to "re-load" the front axle - adding no additional weight.

The truck weighs, with onboard cargo, right at 8360 lbs - or almost exactly the same as the trailer. I was surprised to find that the truck's front axle had such a low reserve capacity (---too much Duramax, Allison, 4WD,and gadgets!!!) With that in mind, I have looked carefully to see how I could keep the hitch weight under 1,000 pounds and continue using the equalizer bars lightly loaded. I've heard the comment Silvertwinkie made about loading behind the axle - but I do believe that cautionary note is more in line with creating "too light" of a hitch load versus keeping the hitch load within limits. The 12% to !5% hitch weight is probably an excellent recommendation in most cases - and I'm sure that it is based on more credible experience than anything I might offer.

Are we having fun yet???
I think you just talked me into a 2500HD 6L. So how are you suppose to tow something 12000 if you are having to jimmy with 9000. I think I would try to get the weight aft like you do or at least over the wheels. You're rated for 12000 or so and they put a 1000 hitch on the truck. Maybe I'll buy a Ford.
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Old 10-15-2004, 06:18 PM   #18
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Talking

I adjust my weight and balance very carefully. I always remove my coffee cup from the microwave and place it in the cupboard, empty. So far no problems.
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Old 10-15-2004, 07:49 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Hit'the'road
So how does one go about learning how to properly load the AS so as to avoid problems? Does this mean no cast iron skillets and only paper plates? Only put your socks in the aft underbed storage?

I thought RVing was supposed to be relaxing. Between trying to get the right tow vehicle, financing all these purchases and learning of potential towing disaster due to bad weight and balance, I'm getting ready to stay home. I'm changing my login name to stay'at'home.
Proper loading really consists of common sense, IE., load evenly side to side, load most of the weight at or to the front of the axles, and keep the heavy stuff on the bottom. It is not rocket science, just common sense. Don't put 500 pounds of stuff in the rear bathroom, etc. Lightweight items are always preferred, no matter what brand of trailer you wind up with. This from someone that doesn't like schlepping tons of gear with me while "getting away from it all." It limits your top towing speed, and makes the tires look all squatty.
Terry
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Old 10-16-2004, 09:33 AM   #20
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Over59:

For towing on the ball, the 1,000 lbs is the "dead load" rating of the hitch and it further limits the max towing capacity to 7,500 lbs in that configuration. The hitch capacity with an "equalizer" setup goes up to 1500 lbs on the hitch and 12,000 lbs max trailer weight. The capacity for 5th wheel towing is rated at 14,000 lbs - but this is further reduced by the weight of the truck as delivered. For the record, my bare bones truck's capacity was reduced to 13,400 pounds by actual scale weights. I think you'll find that the reduction in capacity for towing on the ball is fairly standard with all manufacturers -and not a weakness with GM.
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