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Old 06-03-2008, 11:06 AM   #1
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"We Gotta Get Out of Here"

Hi everyone. I am brand new to this adventure of Roadtrip Trailering.
My best friend: she's also my wife, are dying to see this country of ours. The ultimate goal is to find a new place to live. Slower paced, less trafic, fewer people.

After visiting a RV and trailer show, we fell in love with the Airstream. It's so sleek and neat. And there seems to be a feeling of RETRO in them as well.

My first question is: What is the ideal towing vechile for a 20-25 foot trailer?

Thank You
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:33 AM   #2
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Tons of advice

When it comes to tow vehicles, it seems that everyone has his/her personal preferences.

First off, two people on a long trip.... a 25 footer is the minimum I'd go for. And the 25 ft model is generally where people will recommend looking at a 3/4 ton vehicle as opposed to a 1/2 ton. Use the "Search" function and look at "Tow Vehicles" just for an overwhelming view of how much info is on this site right now.

You also need to know that a truck is "tow ready" - towing mirrors, prewired for a brake controller or even with an integrated brake controller, extra cooling on the transmission fluid and oil, hefty brakes, a rear differential gearing that's made for towing, and a transmission with "tow mode" to keep the transmission from shifting at every slight increase or decrease in speed.

Likely half ton candidates

Ford F-150
Chevy Silverado 1500
Chevy Suburban 1500
Dodge Ram 1500
Toyota Tundra - new or nearly new
Nissan Titan - new or nearly new

Consider where you'll be traveling too. If you're going to be going through the Rockies, the Grand Tetons and the Al-Can highway, you'll probably want to upsize to a 3/4 ton truck.

BTW, find the perfect Airstream first, then start looking for the tow vehicle - you'll have the Airstream long after the truck is toast. If you haven't seen the Airstream 27 FB (either in the Safari SE, the CCD & Ocean Breeze, and the Classic... you haven't seen my personal ideal Airstream. Spend PLENTY of time looking and get the bigger one if there's any doubt. Make sure you're comfortable negotiating around the bed, using the bathroom and the shower before you ink the deal!

Paula
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:34 AM   #3
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Welcome to the Airstream Forum, Charlie.

Almost everyone here seems to use trucks for pulling. It seems to be only a matter of size. Could be a Ĺ ton will do it for you, or mebbe a ĺ ton, there's a bit of a debate around that one.

You get to pick the colour though.
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Old 06-03-2008, 11:43 AM   #4
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Charlie and Spouse- Welcome to the forum. Your question has been asked 100 times and gotten 1,000 different answers. The search function on the top bar is a great way to start your research. Right now we are towing our 22' Safari with a Tahoe. We have toweed over 15K so far in the last three seasons and 85% of the time the truck is fine. Had to take out time over the Rockies and the Big Horn and a few back country moutain roads. Next year we will be upgrading to a Chevy Duramax/Cummings. Good advise, pick your Airstream first you will own it forever, then your TV. Good luck and keep us all posted.
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:30 PM   #5
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Welcome to the forums!

Sounds like a great adventure you have planned. We tow our trailer with an E150 clubwagon. I think the smaller your trailer, the bigger your tow vehicle needs to be We stuff the back end full of coolers, hitch equipment, firewood, hoses, stabilizer jacks and wheel chocks, and usually a couple camp chairs and a table - none of which fits in our 17ft trailer. And then we still have room in the back for the dogs. So if you go with a 20ft trailer, be sure to pick a tow vehicle with a little cargo room in the back, like a van or a pickup with a canopy. Just our experience.
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Old 06-03-2008, 12:33 PM   #6
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Hi Charlie,

First off, pick your trailer based upon what you intend to do with it. Then, pick the most appropriate tow vehicle for that trailer and taking your specific requirements/preferences into account.

Trailer size is not only a matter of preference but also one of practicality. There are pros and cons to both larger and smaller trailers - the key is to find the most perfect "fit" for you and your wife. My spouse and I (plus two little pooches) travel 5-7 times and stay in our 19' Bambi about 20-25 nights each year. We have never felt cramped for lack of space. We have a great relationship and very much enjoy each other's company so that definitely helps (my spouse is my best friend, too). There are places we like to stay that a larger trailer would be difiicult or impossible to get in to (take a look at the site lengths for most national and state parks - big trailers can be hard to find parking for in these places). We also like to boondock away from established campgrounds and the smaller trailers work much better in these situations.

No matter which Airstream you choose you will do best with a body-on-frame (not uni-body) truck chassis with a V-8 engine of at least 5.0l displacement (I would consider this a minimum for a 19' trailer). As a ballpark reference, I would add 0.5l of displacement for each 3' of increase in trailer length. Auto or manual transmission is a matter of preference but an auto is much less fatiguing in heavy traffic and your tow rating will be higher with an auto as well. Axle ratios of 3.73 to about 4.10 seem to give the best towing results when balanced against fuel economy. Other than that, pick a truck or SUV that you like, be sure it comes with (or you install) a quality hitch receiver, use a weight distribution hitch for increased towing capacity and stability and hit the road!

Later,
Kevin
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Old 06-03-2008, 01:47 PM   #7
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I'd support Colorado Camper - bigger or smaller is a matter of personal preference and camping style - and one that is in the middle should be "just right" ...

As far as tow vehicles go - once you have created a list of trucks that you feel will comfortably do the job then a great (and unbiased) tool to help make the list shorter is Consumer Reports - their performance reviews, customer satisfaction and reliability ratings are effective purchasing aids that will allow you to compare each trucks strengths and weaknesses.

Good luck,


Jay
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlie636
Hi everyone. I am brand new to this adventure of Roadtrip Trailering.
My best friend: she's also my wife, are dying to see this country of ours. The ultimate goal is to find a new place to live. Slower paced, less trafic, fewer people.

After visiting a RV and trailer show, we fell in love with the Airstream. It's so sleek and neat. And there seems to be a feeling of RETRO in them as well.

My first question is: What is the ideal towing vechile for a 20-25 foot trailer?

Thank You
1500 suburban. Tow package. 4:10 rear. 6.0L engine.
connected with a Hensley Arrow hitch.
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Old 06-03-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Charlie - Welcome to the best source of Airstream information on the planet. As for how to move to the next step - you've already had the best advice. Choose the trailer first!! Take your wife to an AS dealership with the intent of spending the whole day there. Go sit in every trailer, and visualize how you would use it. Compare storage - is there going to be enough closet space? Enough for both of your hobbies (but remember, you'll have some storage in your eventual tow vehicle (TV). Is the kitchen sufficient for your gourmet wife? What kind of bed best fits your needs - singles? queen? Center queen, side queen or perpendictular? Is a split bath (sink & toilet on one side & the shower on the other) what you need? Or do you like the bath all on one side? All these options can make your choice difficult. Please note - while it's not unusual for dedicated Airstreamer's to "trade up" in size or model, it is expensive to do that. It's much better that you & your wife take your time, think thru all the uses & options each size offers and then make an educated choice. THEN go looking for the best tow vehicle you can afford - having a great Airstream to vacation in isn't worth too much if you can't pull it down (or over) the road. When you get over 26 ft. or so, you'll find the power of a diesel worth while to have. Read the threads discussing hitches - good balance and sway control is VERY important. If you lack towing experience, I'd consider a Hensley. They're expensive, but in my opinion WORTH EVERY PENNEY. It totally eliminates the horror a passing 53 ft. 18-wheeler can cause, not to mention high winds. Others will point you towards a Reece. Both are good hitches for you to consider.

Another tack - Have you considered a vintage trailer? I'd suggest you give that a long look. Attend a rally in your area. There will more than likely be a vintage there and the owner will love to show it off. Or, go to the VAC to learn where & when their next rally in your area will be. Well worth the time & effort. Like I said above - changing your mind IS expensive.

Whatever you do, please do let us know your eventual decision.
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:39 AM   #10
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We believe in the BBB principle (bigger, better, bull). Our 22' SS is more than enough for the two of us and two dogs. We just came back from a mountain camping trip (above 7000') and on any of the grades were in the passing lane passing the bigger betters and getting more miles to the gallon.
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:50 AM   #11
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We believe in the BBB principle (bigger, better, bull). Our 22' SS is more than enough for the two of us and two dogs. We just came back from a mountain camping trip (above 7000') and on any of the grades were in the passing lane passing the bigger betters and getting more miles to the gallon.
What are you towing with?
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:54 AM   #12
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We started off with a 2005 Internatioanl CCD 25' with 2 adults and 4 dogs. Our tow vehicle was not suffecient. However, we got into vintage and decided to let the '05 go and now our tow vehicle (07 Tahoe) can handle anything in our fleet. We loved the plug & play of the new trailers - great for first time RV'ers (which we were). Vintage is more nostalgic, cheaper to tow, easier to tow, hold thier value (or even increase in value), and still offer us enough room. Keep in mind vintage can be made to be as easy and as plug & play as the new ones- it will all depend on the time and effort put into it. Like a few have already said- pick the Airstream then the TV. Also, we loved the solar package on our '05- definatly consider that! Good luck with whatever you choose and we will see ya down the road.
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Old 06-04-2008, 09:52 AM   #13
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... can handle anything in our fleet.
I love the way you worded that. Admirals April and Andy?

For the OP, I fell in love with vintage Airstreams and now that's all I can look at, although I do REALLY like the interiors on the CCD trailers. I have a TV that can pull most of the vintage units so I'm not limited by that, but it seems that the general concensus among veteran AS owners is that you really should pick your trailer first, make sure it works for you functionally and aesthetically, and then find a TV that is capable of handling it.

Good luck!

-Marcus
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:13 AM   #14
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What are you towing with?
Honda Ridegline.
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:33 AM   #15
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Hi Charlie,

You and your wife sound very similar to me and my wife with your desire to find someplace quieter and slower paced. We bought our 25' front bed and lived in it for nine weeks last summer with our cat. It worked really well for us. Our first visit to the dealer was to look at a 16 foot Bambi. We spent lots of time that day at the dealer sitting in the 16' and imagining what it would be like after a week of rain in the Pacific NW. It didn't take us long to realize we needed the 25 footer. For us it's the ideal size. (Although we sometimes joke about a 28' or even larger )

We tow it with a 1998 Dodge 2500 2 wheel drive Cummins diesel. I'm a fan of the Cummins motor having grown up operating a number of different trucks and implements powered by Cummins. As a point of reference, we averaged 15.7 mpg over the 6276 mile trip last summer that was mostly in the mountains of the Pacific NW. Your mileage may vary.

Have a great time and welcome to the forum!

-David
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Old 06-05-2008, 08:47 AM   #16
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Hi Charlie and welcome aboard.

I can only tell you what we chose. We have a 25 FB which we love and because of the two room design we can stay in it for weeks and not feel crowded. It just gives each of us a space when we feel like we want it.

We opted for a 3/4 diesel. My crazy theory is that I'd rather have more than I need than less. Thus crossing crossing the rockies we have plenty of power and torque to do the speed limit with a reserve of power and on the flats the truck is in idle. So we're getting 15 mpg

In the past when we had too little truck I could feel the trailer pushing and going up hills or mountains was a struggle. Frankly towing was an uncomfortable experience.

As a side note. This forum and the WBCCI offer courtesy parking wherein member offer free overnight parking to other members. It's a great way to meet peoplle and find out about the areas you are visiting.

Good luck!
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Old 06-05-2008, 11:51 AM   #17
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Goin camping,

Would you go diesel again, if given the choice? I 'm just wondering if you still feel it was the right choice for you.

cheers,
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Old 06-06-2008, 12:44 AM   #18
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Goin camping,

Would you go diesel again, if given the choice? I 'm just wondering if you still feel it was the right choice for you.

cheers,
Aage
Yep.

Some things for you to consider are.

Gas vehicles traditionally cost $5,000-7,000 less although right now with so few truck buyers that margain has shrunk.

Diesels have a lot more torque. I go up our large western mountains right at the speed limit and our trucks not even working hard.

Our diesel gets 15pmg while towing at the speed limit.

Big block gassers average around 10mpg.

A gal. of gas is approx $4.00 per gal and diesel is approx $5.00 so for a buck I get a %50 gain in mpg.

Your mileage may vary.

I never really considered a small block gasser because of the mountains and desert dirt road towing we do. A gassers power band is at higher rpms. I really hate going over the mountains at 40mph with the engine wound up. Now if you live in flat country and rarely if ever have to go over the rockies etc. a small block may work for you.

There are many people here who have and love small block gassers but a diesel with it's power and longevity is my first choice.
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Old 06-06-2008, 05:25 PM   #19
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Thanks, just curious.
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:59 PM   #20
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Thanks, just curious.
Aage,
We had an F 250 V-10 that we towed our 22' International with. Peachy-keen. Got our current 30' Classic and tho' it towed it "fine", I could definitely tell the trailer was there and could hear the engine work hard on hills...

Traded in the gasser and got our current F 250 turbo diesel... a WORLD of difference. Engine doesn't work nearly as hard, pickup & go are vastly improved. Better mileage than with the V10 and I'll have an engine that will last longer. Hills/mountains are not the problem they were before, by a long shot.

I know there are a lot of pros and cons, gas vs. diesel (am pretty sure the Ford compares equally with the Dodge & Chevy 2500's - ride is different but that's what she said... ). The difference in engines for us was a marked improvement all the way around.
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