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Old 08-29-2011, 11:45 AM   #1
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1/2 Ton Tow Vehicles

All, looking for some experience in towing 25-27' airstreams with 1/2 ton tow vehicles. I am about to make the plunge and purchase my first travel trailer - Airstream of course. I would like to hear folks experiences on towing before I commit to the 25 or 27. We will size down to the 23 if need be.

My tow vehicle is a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Texas Edition with tow package. It has a 5.3L V-8, 3.73 gear ratio, and is "factory book" rated to tow up to 7,600 lbs.

I have my eye on the 27FB Airstream Int which has a dry weight of 5,764 lbs and a loaded GVWR at 7,600 lbs.

When I do the tow capacity calculations to account for cargo in the truck and hitch loads, I am getting a max allowable trailer load of around 7,300-7,400 lbs. I feel pretty good that we could keep the trailer under this weight fully loaded except under rare occasion.

So here is where I would like your help and/or opinions.... if anyone has been involved in this type of rig please let me know how this combo pulled.

Thanks,
Brian
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:50 AM   #2
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Your main worry will be the payload capacity and rear axel capacity on the truck. While you may be within towing limits, you will be close or over on those other limits.
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Old 08-29-2011, 11:55 AM   #3
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As far as the actual towing experience goes, we haven't had any difficulties towing our 34' with a 2009 F150. However, I would keep a close eye on your rear axle max load limit. The F150 was considerably beefed up for the '09 model year which allows us to be within limits even with the larger trailer. I would expect your trailer tongue weight to be around 780# or so. When that is combined with your passengers and gear........
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:02 PM   #4
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Proper rigging and proper equipment is the key to good towing.

A 150 or equal with a V-8 engine is OK, for any Airstream trailer.

A good load equalizing hitch with a meaningful sway control, is a must.

A separate transmission oil cooler, is another must.

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Old 08-29-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
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I'm downsizing from a 2001, 2500 Duramax/34ft slide to a 2006 F150 and either 25ft FB or 23ft. I assumed the F150 with 5.4 would be more than capable for either? I'm interested as well to what people have to say...about this combination. I've been using a Hensley with 34footers, thinking with the smaller trailers,, it will not be so nessessary....?
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #6
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We just bought a 1976 28 foot Argosy 3 weeks ago and have pulled it on two trips so far. First one was the 500 mile trip home, and another this weekend about 330 miles round trip. My TV is a 2006 GMC with the 5.3L engine with 4x4 and Z71. It pulled fantastic. We had a couple of steep hills to navigate and it did great. Got about 12.5 mpg. So far, I've just been towing it on the ball, no sway control or weigh distribution.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saburkha View Post
We just bought a 1976 28 foot Argosy 3 weeks ago and have pulled it on two trips so far. First one was the 500 mile trip home, and another this weekend about 330 miles round trip. My TV is a 2006 GMC with the 5.3L engine with 4x4 and Z71. It pulled fantastic. We had a couple of steep hills to navigate and it did great. Got about 12.5 mpg. So far, I've just been towing it on the ball, no sway control or weigh distribution.
Your asking for more trouible than you can dream of, for you and your passengers, when you tow with just a ball.

Physics, has a great hand in towing properly, and "CANNOT" be kicked to the curb.

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Old 08-29-2011, 12:23 PM   #8
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We tow a 28ft Classic with a 09 F150 5.4. No problems. Runs best under 65 mph.
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Old 08-29-2011, 12:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by timmaah View Post
Your main worry will be the payload capacity and rear axel capacity on the truck. While you may be within towing limits, you will be close or over on those other limits.
GVWR of the truck is 6,800 lbs and curb weight is 5,148 lbs. I expect passengers/cargo in the truck to be 500 lbs tops and have to stay under 1,000 lbs hitch load. Should keep me 100-200 lbs under the GVWR of the tow vehicle. Payload on the truck is 1,652.
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Old 08-29-2011, 01:35 PM   #10
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No Problem

As others have said, a properly equipped half ton can tow your 25 or 23 foot Airstream. I am towing a 25FB with my Tundra and have absolutely no trouble in the hills or the flats. What you have to think about is your payload.

If you are going to bring a lot of heavy extras with you, you probably will be over your payload limit. We travel light so it is not a problem with us. You have received some good advice to check axle ratings and payload capacities.

I think a good WD hitch with build in sway is a great investment.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:11 PM   #11
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brianw,

I had a simular rig to what you are considering...a '07 1/2 ton GMC, tow package, 5.3 Liter engine, and 3.73 rear end, and I was dissatsified with it towing an '01 25'. I had the Reese Dual Cam hitch, and while the weight distribution worked fine, the sway control didn't. I changed to the ProPride hitch, and no more problem at all with sway. Then I changed the gears to 4.10, and it was better, but I was still not satisfied. So, then I traded trucks and got a 3/4 ton GMC Diesel, and NO more problems at all.

Others may have different experiences, but these were mine. Don't know what transmission your truck has, but if it's the six speed, yours will do better. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
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Old 08-29-2011, 02:43 PM   #12
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I find my Tundra/ 25' Safari to be a better match (in general) than my previous F250. The biggest improvement is in the ride.
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Old 08-29-2011, 03:33 PM   #13
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I've towed my 8500 pound Classic with an Avalanche (5.3.3.73), a Yukon Denali XL (6.2/3.42 w/6 speed tranny). The 5.3 did fine and was in control. The Yukon XL was better due to the increased HP, but also was in control fine.

This summer I have been towing with a Silverado 2500 (6.0/3.73 6 speed). There was a marked improvement. It's just a better match.

The 1500/5.3/3.73 will do fine...just not in the Rockies. It'll be slow going in the mountains, which is fine in my book.

Like was stated above. Watch your rear axle weights, if you plan on much in the bed of the truck.
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Old 08-29-2011, 03:37 PM   #14
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I pull an Excella 34' with my 1/2 ton Dodge Dakota. I have a good equalizing hitch, anti sway control, and of course a tranny cooler. I had my TV and trailer professionally set up by CanAm RV in London.

Going up hill is a bit slower, but no problem on the straight and level.
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Old 08-29-2011, 04:09 PM   #15
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I agree with Timmaah. Your biggest challenge will be the rear axle weight rating because it is only a half ton. By the time you add up the weight of people, pets, fuel and stuff plus the tongue weight you will be very near the rear axle weight rating. Additionally you won't have much power anyway because it is only a 5.3L motor, 3.73 rear axle and a 5 speed transmission. But I would not sweat that. You are in Texas. When you do get the mountains, you will just need to go slower and stay in a lower gear. Like others say, get a good weight distribution hitch and have it properly adjusted and you will do fine. In a few years you may want to upgrade your TV, but get the Airstream you want right now.

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Old 08-29-2011, 04:36 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianw
All, looking for some experience in towing 25-27' airstreams with 1/2 ton tow vehicles. I am about to make the plunge and purchase my first travel trailer - Airstream of course. I would like to hear folks experiences on towing before I commit to the 25 or 27. We will size down to the 23 if need be.

My tow vehicle is a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Texas Edition with tow package. It has a 5.3L V-8, 3.73 gear ratio, and is "factory book" rated to tow up to 7,600 lbs.

I have my eye on the 27FB Airstream Int which has a dry weight of 5,764 lbs and a loaded GVWR at 7,600 lbs.

When I do the tow capacity calculations to account for cargo in the truck and hitch loads, I am getting a max allowable trailer load of around 7,300-7,400 lbs. I feel pretty good that we could keep the trailer under this weight fully loaded except under rare occasion.

So here is where I would like your help and/or opinions.... if anyone has been involved in this type of rig please let me know how this combo pulled.

Thanks,
Brian

I have an 09 F150 4x4 SuperCrew with the 157" wheelbase, 3.73 axle and max trailer towing package (11,100 lbs). The truck came with 20" P rated tires, and the door sticker states the maximum weight of occupants and cargo must not exceed 878 lbs. My axle ratings, also on the door sticker, are GAWRf 4050lbs and GAWRr 4000 lbs. The GVWR is somewhat less at 7200 lbs.

I threw out the stock tires and have since installed a set of 10 ply Michelins. I don't know how much of the truck's weight restriction was influenced by the stock tires. After five trips through the scales and several different hitch setups I concluded that there is no way to load distribute enough tongue weight to get the rear axle load under the stated GAWR. I tow a 2011 International 27FB. The tongue weight is 700 lbs I think.

The best I have achieved was with the following conditions. Trailer tanks empty, truck full of gas, two adults, two children, one dog, two bicycles in the back along with a couple of lawn chairs and a barbecue, propane tank and 5 ga fresh water jerry can. The hitch is a Reese dual cam with the heavier bars (1200# I think) and enough stress after hitch up to bend the bars slightly.

Measured Axle load at scale (versus listed GWR)
Front axle: 3902 (4050)
Rear axle: 4277 (4000)

Total truck: 8179 (7200)

Trailer axles: 5842 (7600)

Check out the sticker on your door. I have no problem pulling my 27FB; my issue is payload.
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Old 08-29-2011, 05:13 PM   #17
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Thanks to everyone for the quick responses. It sounds like the combo I mentioned above has been done before, and it works. Not ideal for the full time RV'er and not ideal for any type mountain driving. But for now, I think I can make it work with the proper rig under my situation.

We will be using the trailer mostly for quick weekend trips and the occasional week+ trip. We live in Texas, so as you can imagine, we don't have much in the way of elevation change here.

Thanks again Air Forum.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:22 PM   #18
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There are 3 great 1/2 ton tv.

F 150
Tundra
Sequoia
All are rated to or above 10,000 towable
Sequoia can carry more passengers but less stuff, but has the rear independent rear end Wichita is nice and a 4.10 rear end like the tundra.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:44 PM   #19
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I had a 2008 Silverado, 2WD. 5.3 and 3.42 rear end and pulled my 05 28' Safari all through the Smokeys without problems. It had the trailer package and tow mode on the shifter. When the lease came due I purchases a 2011 Silverado 5.3 and 3.42rear end. The 2011 has the 6 speed trans and Stabiltrack as well as the tow package. I have weighed both trailer and truck fully loaded and am easily within the specs. My trailer, btw, weighs about 6500 when loaded for camping for just my wife and me.
The tongue weight is high but with the Equilizer and a good amount of time spent setting it up, the rig sets up and tows very well. The 6 speed trans is clearly better on acceleration but overal mileage and performance seems the same to me.
I know it will be slower going at higher elevations through the Rockies, but I only go through there about every 4 years, so I can live with the half ton. BTW, I get between 11 and 13.5 mpg going 62 - 66 mph. Hope that helps.
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Old 08-30-2011, 07:49 AM   #20
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So if someone were planning to travel from Texas to the Rockies and back every year, would you recommend that setup to tow a 27FB? I suspect that it would weigh about the same as yours, probably around 6500 lbs. with the stuff for the two of us in it.
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