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Old 07-30-2017, 02:20 PM   #1
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Best rigs to safely and confidently haul an AIRSTREAM?

So a lot is changed with automotive manufacturing over the last 40 years obviously… But my owners manual for my 1972 ambassador shows the big thing being towed by a station wagon. These days a station wagon may be a compact SUV, but I don't think my Kia is nearly up to the task. What SUVs are recommended, or trucks for this vital purpose? I know people are brand-centric and will tell me about how Ford is better than Chevy is better than Dodge… But seriously… Would love some comments. Is an Explorer heavy-duty enough?
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:16 PM   #2
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How much does your rig weigh?

What is the tongue weight?

Let's start there. Give us those two numbers and we can answer your question.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:28 PM   #3
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Since the trailer in question is not identified, I will give my three personal examples.

I tow our 2015 23D International Serenity that has a loaded for camping weight of 6,063 pounds with my 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI that has a 3.0L V6 turbocharged diesel engine. The optimum speed for towing with this car works out to be 55 mph even in the mountains. I also slow to the posted yellow sign speeds on turns and downgrades. I have my Hensley Arrow hitch installed that was on my 25FB below.

I did tow our brand new 2013 25FB International Serenity (it only had full fresh water and propane tanks, added street and rear side awnings, 155 watt single solar panel on the roof, a Tekonsha Prodigy RV brake control head and a Hensley Arrow hitch) with just a brief case inside from the selling Los Angles dealership to Phoenix on I-10 and climbed the mountain grade out of Palm Springs at 55 mpg in fourth gear at 3,100 rpm). When we loaded it for camping, the 6,900 pound weight seemed to strain the Mercedes driveline. We upgraded the tow vehicle to the one now towing the Classic below.

Our 2014 31' Classic scales 9,200 pounds fully loaded. We tow it with my 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins that has been tricked out. The rig scales 19,200 pounds. The rig is connected using a ProPride hitch. It can go faster than I want to drive. 65MPH is right at the peak torque value of this engine and it can run all day (now has a 56 gallon underbody fuel tank) with a range approaching just over 700 miles. I have to stop and empty my tank several times before the truck needs a refill.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:30 PM   #4
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Hi

Where will you be traveling?

How much "stuff" will you have along?

I'm guessing you have a 29' 1972 Ambassador. That originally was claimed to weigh in at 4,800 lb empty. It's worth checking if that's still true. Some have suggested that the "official" numbers from that era were a bit on the light side.

If you are in the > 5,000 lb range, I would not recommend the Explorer. Best case, it's rated at 5,000 lb. Some versions are rated at less than half that.

Bob
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:32 PM   #5
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Ford 350...
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:52 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monza View Post
Ford 350...
Hi

.... only if it's a full length bed / crew cab / diesel / 4x4 / dually

.... with the right hitch .... figured I'd stir up that debate as well

Bob
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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The replacement for the 1972 station wagon is the modern minivan, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota for example. For towing an Airstream it is better than that station wagon in every way, more power, more stability, and better brakes. A very good towing platform.

Like the old station wagon it will need hitch work, and possibly other upgrades such as transmission cooler or better tires, to accommodate a weight distribution hitch and the hitch weight of the Airstream. Can-Am Airstream in London, Ontario has set up thousands of minivans and SUV's for towing travel trailers, many on this forum including an earlier poster on this thread.

As you might suspect, everyone on the internet has their own favorite bias. Go the the experts for advice.

http://www.canamrv.ca/towing-expertise/
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

.... only if it's a full length bed / crew cab / diesel / 4x4 / dually

.... with the right hitch .... figured I'd stir up that debate as well

Bob
That's correct!
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Old 07-30-2017, 04:53 PM   #9
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Contributor "Top" has a similar, fully restored model (his livelihood). Used a half-ton EcoDiesel. See posts.

As mentioned above, a Honda type minivan or Buick Acadia type SUV would be even better, given that you are not carrying a half-cord of firewood, etc.

Bigger isn't better.

Maximize the AS advantage in pdesign.
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:09 AM   #10
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I did drive the Mercedes ML320 CDI from Phoenix to CanAm in London, Ontario in October of 2012 where they reinforced the receiver and slightly both shortened and slightly bent the Hensley Arrow stinger. Shortening brought the trailer closer to the car for better weight transfer and the bend helped pre-load the weight distribution system. I needed about 3" of the lower rod showing on both the 25FB and now the 23D.

I passed by CanAm on the way back from picking the 23D up on the East coast and Andy Thompson fine tuned the setup. It drives like it is on rails.
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Old 07-31-2017, 05:24 AM   #11
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Everybody seems to forget that, in 1972, a full-size station wagon was the best they could get to tow. It was long, heavy, full-frame, sat low to the ground, and you could fill it up with stuff. People would tow at around 50mph or so, remember the national speed limit was 55.
Nowadays, the only long, heavy, full-frame vehicles like a station wagon are Chevy Suburbans and Ford Expeditions. There are no vehicles directly comparable to that 1972 station wagon, unless you get a 1972 station wagon. And if you try to tow at 50mph on the highway, you'll get run over by the duallies towing 45' fifth wheels with 4 slideouts at 75+.
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Old 07-31-2017, 09:26 AM   #12
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Chrysler products were unibody. And preferred for a list of reasons.

Some states were more restrictive about trailer towing then. But 55-mph wasn't until 1974 and plenty of us were covering miles a decade before that. Granted, the Interstate System was under construction, so roads were different. More difficult. Passing was interesting, at times.

55-65/mph has always been a good range for towing given conditions.

Today's minivans are easily as heavy as some of those wagons or sedans. But without the rear overhang. And a lot more engine power and braking capacity. Better steering.

A fully independent suspension Expedition is a good default choice. (Part of the AS design advantage is also independent suspension. Stability.) The other factors of weight and wheelbase exceed what's necessary. It's a better solo vehicle by the same virtues.

With only the exception of the western US outside metro regions can one run hard with adequate vehicle spacing, so "speed" is as much a non-starter then as now.

Someone lane-changing throughout the day, or using brakes while underway needs to back down. Ck the AVERAGE speed. Running faster won't significantly increase it on crowded Interstates. And, given the typical 300-mile day, there's no time saving anyway.

Besides, there's no chance to enjoy the view.

.
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Old 07-31-2017, 09:55 AM   #13
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Hi

Like a lot of things, the term "minivan" gets stretched to cover a range of things. On one end you have full sized vans that are *very* capable for towing. On the other end you have stuff that barely will fit 4 passengers (and has zero tow rating). Yes, it's nonsense. Welcome to modern marketing.

Bob
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:41 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Like a lot of things, the term "minivan" gets stretched to cover a range of things. On one end you have full sized vans that are *very* capable for towing. On the other end you have stuff that barely will fit 4 passengers (and has zero tow rating). Yes, it's nonsense. Welcome to modern marketing.

Bob
Good point.

Honda Odyssey post 2006.
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Old 07-31-2017, 12:39 PM   #15
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Body on frame

A lot of those big, old station wagons were body on frame and more closely resembled trucks than today's cars. The new explorers are unibody and are capable of towing the smaller Airstreams. Just beware of the weight limitations and towing capacity of whatever you buy.
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Old 07-31-2017, 06:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
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That's correct!
I tow a 30'FC with a Ford F-150 Eco-Boost, 3.5 Litre.
Works for me, and I'll be out this weekend with it.
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Old 07-31-2017, 08:46 PM   #17
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The only thing that should be used to tow a '72 is a '72 station wagon!
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Old 08-01-2017, 06:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildhorses View Post
The only thing that should be used to tow a '72 is a '72 station wagon!
Hi

.... unless it's the Pinto version ...

(yes I owned a Pinto, just not the station wagon version ...)

Bob
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Old 08-01-2017, 08:30 AM   #19
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The undocumented feature of the Pintos were the exploding gasoline tanks when hit from behind.
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Old 08-02-2017, 05:18 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by switz View Post
Since the trailer in question is not identified, I will give my three personal examples.

I tow our 2015 23D International Serenity that has a loaded for camping weight of 6,063 pounds with my 2007 Mercedes ML320 CDI that has a 3.0L V6 turbocharged diesel engine. The optimum speed for towing with this car works out to be 55 mph even in the mountains. I also slow to the posted yellow sign speeds on turns and downgrades. I have my Hensley Arrow hitch installed that was on my 25FB below.

I did tow our brand new 2013 25FB International Serenity (it only had full fresh water and propane tanks, added street and rear side awnings, 155 watt single solar panel on the roof, a Tekonsha Prodigy RV brake control head and a Hensley Arrow hitch) with just a brief case inside from the selling Los Angles dealership to Phoenix on I-10 and climbed the mountain grade out of Palm Springs at 55 mpg in fourth gear at 3,100 rpm). When we loaded it for camping, the 6,900 pound weight seemed to strain the Mercedes driveline. We upgraded the tow vehicle to the one now towing the Classic below.

Our 2014 31' Classic scales 9,200 pounds fully loaded. We tow it with my 2012 Ram 2500HD Cummins that has been tricked out. The rig scales 19,200 pounds. The rig is connected using a ProPride hitch. It can go faster than I want to drive. 65MPH is right at the peak torque value of this engine and it can run all day (now has a 56 gallon underbody fuel tank) with a range approaching just over 700 miles. I have to stop and empty my tank several times before the truck needs a refill.


Great responses Switz. Thanks for taking the time! The Ram sounds premium!
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