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Old 03-04-2003, 09:40 PM   #61
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As a newbie who doesn't have a trailer yet, but is wondering what the heck I'm going to pull it with when I finally get one, this thread has been very interesting (along with the towing with a car thread). I still don't know what I will get ultimately, but I can tell you right now I WILL NOT be exceeding the vehicles stated towing capacity, whatever I get. That just doesn't seem like a smart idea to me. I'm waiting to see what size trailer I get, and then I can take into account the length, the weight, the tow vehicles wheelbase, etc. So, I just say that so you long-timers out there don't think that every newbie reading this is going to pull a 30+ trailer with a Windstar. Just because some people do it doesn't mean I want to. However, it's nice to know if I find a lightweight, small trailer, the Windstar has some towing capacity. I'll be considering it when the time comes.

However, an older gentleman who's a friend of mine has been advising me that I can pull whatever I get with my Bronco, because wheelbase doesn't matter. He knows this because he's been towing for years, and he says if I set the hitch up right, wheelbase doesn't matter. For proof he told me about the hitch company that hooked a trailer up to a car, took off the back wheels and drove across country. Convinced him. Just thought I'd let you know that old promotion was still stuck in the minds of some people all these years later, and they were still using it to give advice to newbies like me. If I didn't read this forum, I probably would have taken his word for it and given it a shot. And who knows, maybe it would work fine for years to come, or maybe it would be a horrible mistake. I'm just not willing to risk my families safety on experimenting with it.
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Old 03-05-2003, 09:57 AM   #62
 
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Stephanie ,

You were the last poster here, so, this is for you and other who are willing to listen.
First point: remember that your tow vehicle can pull the trailer. But, make sure you will not have to replace your transmission every few years.
Most importantly: make sure you can stop.

I am not making this one up: we just had our first brake failure taking our new tailer home.
Not our fault this time.

The AS dealer spent a lot of time explaining everything to us. They "always make sure everything is safe before sending people on the road". (we even had a lesson on how to make popcorn in the microwave !!!!)

Hitch-up the trailer, check all the lights. Brakes, forward & back. Check our controller....
Everything is OK,........"you can home, now."

I kept a close eye on the trailer while Mike was driving. About 40 miles out of town, stop at the Welcome Center. Mike checked all the tires, the temperature of the hubs, the chains,..etc.... Everything's fine.
Drove 300 feet, left on the Interstate ramp: the trailer has no brakes. Looked behind: it has no lights !!!
Were we happy we decided to tow it home with the van instead of the Honda Civic or the Kia !!!!
After stopping safely, Mike found out that they sent us on the road with a mangled trailer plug clip. When he was checking things out, he must have slightly brushed the wire, and after 300 feet, we were disconnected. No lights, no brakes.
I kept my eyes pealed to the rear view mirror the rest of the way, but everything was fine.

My point is, if you will allow me to repeat myself:

This happened with a 8300 GVW trailer, towed at 25mph by a BIG 1 ton van. Everything turned out fine, but it could have been disastrous a few hundred feet further, on the Interstate.

Sorry to be beating that dead horse into a pancake, but if I can help save some green horn 's life, I can now die happy.

Chantal
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Old 03-05-2003, 02:05 PM   #63
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Well, accidents do happen, and that's probably the whole point. Hopefully everyone will use their own best judgement, and the advice of those around them who know more and have more experience (including the people who make up the tow vehicle ratings), and everything will turn out ok. I'm narrowing my search down for a trailer now, and whatever I find, I will have a friend haul it home for me with his dodge 2500 which he tows his 30 ft SOB with, because I know none of the vehicles at my house (bronco, grand caravan, and two cars) are appropriate for moving a 4000+lb trailer. After three months of looking, I sure would hate to see my new-to-me Airstream not even make it home!

Don't worry, Femuse, I'm listening to ya'
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Old 03-05-2003, 06:01 PM   #64
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Unhappy here is another way to have no brakes

i was on my way to florida some years back and stopped for gas, while is was filling up out of the corner of my eye i saw some one cut between my truck and trailer.

they were too lazy to walk around my rig at the gas pump.

later when i got back on the freeway i noticed i had no running lights! i pulled over to discover my plug dragging on the ground!

all it took was some one too lazy to walk around my truck to bump my plug and dislodge it. no brakes no nothing!

the loss of of your trailer brakes can happen without your knowledge!

that is why i always run with lights on so i can look in the mirror and know that i am still plugged in!

i have a 3/4 ton truck with 4 wheel disc brakes. just in case!

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Old 03-07-2003, 08:51 AM   #65
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easy safety solution

While hauling a loaded horse trailer, I discovered that the 7-way plug had worked out of the truck receptacle. Therefore, no lights, no brakes. Yikes!! So I went to a hardware store and bought a package of plastic slide-type ties, like the type that bind, say, construction materials. The free end slides through an opening at the other end and little teeth hold the free end in place. If you pull it tight enough, the only way you can get it off is to cut it.

I then installed a tie on both the horse trailer and Airstream plugs through the holes on either side of the plug. I tightened up the tie sufficiently to make a snug fit over the tab on the truck's receptacle cover, but loose enough to be able to slide off manually. Voila! No more jiggled-loose trailer plugs. I keep the rest of the package of ties in the truck glovebox, but so far haven't had to use any more.

Next time I hitch up, I'll try to get a picture to illustrate.

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Old 03-18-2003, 03:20 PM   #66
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When I first opened this post, I saw the picture of the Intrepid and the 34 footer and thought it was just a joke - someone being funny. I can't believe that anyone could (or would) tow a 34 footer with a car or mini-van.

I have a Chevy 3/4 ton, stretch cab, 8 foot bed, 350 CID engine that I have tried to pull my 34 footer with and I am far from satisfied with the truck. The wheelbase is adequate, but the power is not even for little hills here in Mississippi.

I am truly amazed that the Canadians actually do this and it seems to work!!

I wonder if my 4 cylinder Mercedes 240D diesel (56 hp) would tow my 34 footer? I bet it could if I were in Canada!!!
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Old 03-18-2003, 03:32 PM   #67
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Talk about the thread that won't die!

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Old 03-18-2003, 04:31 PM   #68
 
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I hope you were joking when you said "the Canadians actually do this and it seems to work!! "

I think things should be put back in perspective, and this thread should be moved to the "Comedy forum", if there was one.

I have not seen the video in question, and I have no interest in doing so. But, recently, I have read a lot about it in other forums. Here is a brief summary of people's opinions about this bad joke:

"the Hensley marketing video is a sorry piece of crap"

"If someone does purchase a rig like that based on one video, then that same person probably pours lighter fluid on the hood of their car and lights it to show how well their car wax works. "

"I think... people who'd tow grossly overloaded based on the HA video were probably headed for the Darwin Award anyway."

"I got the Hensley comedy video awhile ago. Unlike just about every commercial that has disclaimers on the screen, the Hensley video does not. And they go on saying things like it doesnt matter how you load your trailer, it doesnt matter what condition your axles and brakes are in, you dont have to worry. Its only going to be a matter of time before somebody tries what they say/show in the video, fails, and sues Hensley for every greedy penny they have, and wins. I laugh at the whole video"

"... people will try to sell the unsuspecting public swampland in Arizona....Hensely should be ashamed..... I found it just plain irresponsible.... they PREY on people with marginal tow vehicles and minimal towing experience."

"Some of the sales people are just plain ignorant and the rest are liars when it comes to the fact that they may lose a sale if they push people into the safety zone of truth. Most of the time, the truth costs more! "

"Thank goodness that most of us can see that for what it is, but the unfortunate truth is that there will be some people who watch the video and will try to pull big trailers with a too-small vehicle, all because Hensley made it look like that's what their hitch was designed to do!
"I personally don't want to be anywhere around the idiot who is trying to pull a 30 foot trailer with his midsized car because he saw a video that made it look OK to do so. "

"What? It's not a comedy sketch? You're kidding right?"

I just hope somebody with "marginal towing experience" does not start on this again, and stops midway, believing what he wants to believe.


You can check for yourself, in 2 of the numerous discussions on that idiotic subject:
http://www.rv.net/forums/index.cfm/f...TID/126786.cfm
http://www.rv.net/forums/index.cfm/f...TID/468392.cfm
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Old 03-19-2003, 07:20 AM   #69
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I hope you were joking when you said "the Canadians actually do this and it seems to work!! "

I guess I should have said "they seem to be getting away with it for now, anyways".

I just read some of the testimony of people who do this and it seems to work. Not safely mind you.

We just need to bring back the TOW DOLLY and we can tow mobile home sized rigs with little cars!!! (This was a joke)
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Old 03-19-2003, 08:12 AM   #70
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Photo Contest!

Keep your cameras on the dashboard this year. Let's see who can snap a photo of the "Most unsafe or ridiculous towing combination" this year. Have your passenger man the camera, not the driver while driving! We don't want an unsafe driver taking a picture of an unsafe towing combination on the freeway at 70 MPH.

I wish I could have gotten a photo of that short bed Dodge pulling a fifth wheel camper down I90 this past summer. The truck looked like it was at a 30 degree angle, and the driver had to lean foward. It was quite a site!
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Old 03-19-2003, 09:38 AM   #71
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Swampland in Arizona? Yes, now I remember that the Colorado river jumped it's banks at one time. Boy, I bet the crocks there have HUGE TEETH, mate. Next time me and the misses pull the A/S in that neck of the woods we'll have a look see. But now I must check my brakes and tow hook up. Reading about some of those close calls makes me even more cautious about safety inspections. I don't want to be on candid camera.
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Old 03-19-2003, 10:00 AM   #72
 
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If you "enjoy" like I do, reading about stupid towing practices, you can start here:
I can't believe my eyes , on the Diesel Forum.

I liked the one they had too on another post, with following comment [see picture]:

New Boat - $35,000
New Truck - $40,000
New Underwear - $2.50
Heavy Duty Trailer Hitch.......... Priceless

Anytime I hear about people towing 8000lbs+ trailer with 1/2 ton pick-up, that makes me cringe. The sad part is they are convinced they are totally safe, and the worst part - "the rest of the public is safe.......the secret is in the hitch.....!!!!"

The sadder part is sales people taking advandage of people's inexperience.

On a related subject:
last year, we were shopping for a "new" tow vehicle. We called a lot of dealers. We were not sure about make, model,... We made it clear that we were replacing a ONE TON van, that was inadequate. We needed MORE cargo capacity, MORE brakes,...
We got a call back from a local Ford dealer: they had the parfect vehicle for us.....a Ford F-150.
At the time, we just laughed at these idiots. Now, after reading about all the practices used by auto & RV dealers, I do not find that so funny.
The question could have been turned around. We could have been inexperienced would be RVers, looking for a trailer: "I have a F-150 and I really like this 33' 8500Lbs trailer. Will I be OK." ........."But of course, sir....you don't think I am going to miss a sale by telling you "NO WAY". I will tell you what you want to hear so I can get my commission."

I have read too many testimonies of similar occurrences to find that so funny anymore.

Someone just posted the following, which should be read by everybody [OK, not me , by nearly everybody]:

RV and Tow Vehicle Weights: an exercise in reality
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Old 03-19-2003, 10:07 AM   #73
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That was totally beyond words....

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Old 04-07-2003, 04:07 PM   #74
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I currently tow my 31' excella with a Suburban 6.2 litre Diesel. The suburban is getting old and I would like something with more power than the 140 hp. that the 6.2 delivers. I am seriously considering going to either a Chrysler 300M or Oldsmobile Aurora and was hoping I would find comments from people using these vehicles that would help me decide between the two. It appears that there are some very strong opinions against this type of combination. My father is a retired school teacher and while I was growing up I spent 2 months each year touring Canada and the United states in a car, towing a trailer. We started off towing a 15 trailer with a Plymouth Valiant wagon with a slant 6, graduated to a 19' towed by a Chrysler New Port with a 413 and my fathers final tow combination before going to a motorhome was a 23' towed by a Ford Ltd. with a 429 engine.
Back then most people towed with cars as these seemed to perform better than a pickup truck/trailer combination.
One of the concerns that has been raised in some of the responses I have read is that these new cars were so light weight. I found a web site with the weight of a 1976 Chrysler Newport it was listed at 3770 to 4200 lbs. The Aurora I am looking at is 3967 lbs. I was surprised the two vehicles were so close in weight. Braking was never a problem with the old Chysler and I am sure the brake technology is far superior on the 300M and Aurora. Durability was another concern. This concern was why I purchased the Suburban Diesel. It was built to take it. Well the crankshaft broke on this engine as I was travelling on an interstate highway and I wasn't even towing at the time. I'm sure there are superior tow vehicles available than the ones I am considering however I only tow a few times each year and with the cost of fuel need a vehicle that will be fairly economical when not towing. If you have had experience towing with either the 300M (or Intrepid) or the Aurora I would like to hear your thoughts on these vehicles.
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Old 04-07-2003, 08:20 PM   #75
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Let this thread die an honorable death. It hurts to even think about answering...

To our remaining Canadian friends, it's all in good fun.

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Old 04-10-2003, 01:01 PM   #76
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I looked at the Intrepid in mid-90's. Decided I wanted nothing less than a V8. And I wasn't even considering towing at that point. For towing, nothing less than a V8 will do - it is not just the HP, but also the brute torque of large displacement engines. With everything else, I will err on the side of too much rather than too little. Otherwise it can turn into a penny wise,
pound foolish situation.

Chevy Caprice with its 350 V8 and longer wheelbase is a much better towing machine than the Intrepid. More horses, more torque. Even then I would considering towing units on the light end of the spectrum. The ones with towing package came with aux. tranny cooler.

I kept a close eye on the trailer while Mike was driving. About 40 miles out of town, stop at the Welcome Center. Mike checked all the tires, the temperature of the hubs, the chains,..etc.... Everything's fine. Drove 300 feet, left on the Interstate ramp: the trailer has no brakes. Looked behind: it has no lights !!!

femuse,

Wow! 1 ton surely helped. I also have a 1 ton.

New Boat - $35,000
New Truck - $40,000
New Underwear - $2.50
Heavy Duty Trailer Hitch.......... Priceless


LOL!

Thanks for the links. Very educational.


Stefrobrts,

It's simple: Extended cab, long 8-foot bed, nice V8 engine, good rear axle all help. It won't be a vehicle optimized for daily driving but it will get the job done. And if you decide to upgrade your A/S, you can still use same tow vehicle.


RoadKingMoe,

Thanks for the extensive comments.
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Old 04-18-2003, 09:33 AM   #77
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I read with interest the numerous posts on our Intrepids and thought I would try and pass on some information about them. It always amazes me how much people know about a combination that they have never driven. I have likely driven more combinations of tow vehicle and trailer under more conditions than anyone but I still have to get behind the wheel to know for sure.

If you will bear with me through this, you may find some information you can use no matter what vehicle you choose to tow with. Understandably many of you have concerns about using a sedan to tow with and if 27 years ago someone had told me we would be towing with cars with 212 cubic inch engines that were 3' shorter and 1000 lbs lighter I would have been sceptical as well but for us it has been a gradual process.

Unlike many people in the industry we have always travelled and used Airstream for vacations and for many years we picked up all our units up at Jackson Centre. As well we always have combinations set up here for test drives which is something no one else does. If those demoís donít work well we donít sell many Airstreams. Here around the Great Lakes it is almost always windy and it makes for a great learning exercise. Mr Matheson who started Eaz-Lift was a friend of my fatherís partner before our store opened in 1970 and impressed upon us how important precise hitch set ups were so we have always been very particular about hitchs. Every combination that leaves our place is setup precisely on a level pad in the shop. This is very important no matter what your tow vehicle is and yet if I walk down a row of 100 trailers at the International Rally I will not find 5 conventional hitches set up optimally.

In the 70's we were like everyone else when it came to selecting a vehicle. You bought the biggest car with the biggest engine and if you came to our store in 1976 you would have found a huge Pontiac with a 185 HP455cid engine connected to an Airstream for test drives. The 1977 cars were 2' shorter and 800 lbs lighter with only 350 engines (which turned out to be 170 HP) we wondered how would we ever tow with them? We brought in a 1977 Caprice and connected it to a 31. Iíll never forget the look on Dads face during that first test drive, he was amazed because it handled fantastic compared to anything we were used to. Trucks bothered it about half what they did big old cars it gave outstanding fuel mileage and had more power. This was because it was not using all its power just to pull itself. This was a real awakening for us. Here everything we had ever assumed about tow vehicles had just been thrown out the window and so we started to challenge other assumptions we had made. Looking back now we know that though the car was 2' shorter the wheel base was only reduced 5", the tires were smaller but the wheel rims were actually larger and the suspension had been tightened up the body structure strengthened all these factors combined to make a much better handling tow vehicle. We started to see if we could improve it further for example the tires looked small so we put on a size larger. Well the handling went out the window the power and mileage were reduced so we decided to try a low profile performance tire and everything improved as time went on we added suspension sway bars improved shocks and eventually had those Caprices refined about as far as they could go. We did not keep track of numbers in the early days but I would guess that we set up several hundred of those Caprices. In 1982 Dad entered a Caprice and 34' Airstream in Trailer Life Magazines fuel economy challenge and easily won his class with 14.47 MPG most other combinations of the same size turned in about 8. Funny it was called the first annual economy challenge but they never had another one.

In 1985 they were downsizing again the full size Oldsmobile had a 231 cubic inch V6 but with multiport fuel injection so it equalled V/8 Caprice for power, it was 2' shorter again but it also was getting rack and pinion steering, independent rear suspension and way shorter rear overhang. I thought we should get one to try out and a long term test but Dad did not see the point since the Caprice worked so well. I ordered one anyway, it arrived while he was away on a trip so when he returned there it was connected out front. He came in about 2' off the floor saying something about I told you not to order one of those followed by something about my genealogy. I just said ďdrive the carĒ he came back hooked and I rarely got to drive that Oldsmobile. That Olds towed Airstreams over Independence pass in Colorado to California, Newfoundland, Florida and did hundreds of test drives and by the way that same Olds is still on the road with 200,000 miles on the original drive-train. This carís performance really blew us away, the multiport injection did not lose near the power at elevation that the old engines with carburetors did mileage was 15 towing if you took it easy but 30 mpg was easy solo though the peak horsepower and torque were no higher than the V8 the power-band was much wider so performance was better. However it was the handling that really amazed us. Trucks could literally sneak by without you knowing they were there, the rack and pinion steering communicated road feel back to you so you did not inadvertently induce sway and the body structure was like a brick allowing the hitch to do an ideal job transferring weight. When we put a hitch on these cars the front of the hitch is between the back wheels instead of being on the last 10" of the frame like truck hitches are. Because we fasten the hitch over such a wide area, the installation is extremely solid and free of the flex that gives you the surging ride in many vehicles. In our own tests our hitch will withstand more force than any factory hitch that we have tested. We have set up more than 500 GM front drive cars for towing since 1987.

When the Intrepid was introduced Chrysler had designed in many ways the ideal tow vehicle they just didnít know it. They widened the stance, lengthened the wheelbase and shortened the rear overhang. As well the 214 Horse Power 212cid engine has 4 valves per cylinder which lets you have your cake and eat it to, it has great low end torque but also plenty of horsepower when necessary, as well they gave it an overbuilt transaxle and a 3.67:1 final drive ratio. Our 1994 Intrepid currently has 84,000 very hard miles on it on the original drive train with the vast majority of these miles towing which includes a thousand test drives, hundreds of runs down the drag strip and plenty of trips elsewhere.

Of coarse you can purchase many vehicles with much higher tow ratings but many of them are inferior tow vehicles. Some vehicles with 8000 lb plus ratings are literally dangerous with a trailer on unless you use a Hensley or Pul-Rite and even then they are marginal. Some vehicle segments all have the same rating. For example every mini van ever made by every manufacture carries a 3500-lb tow rating, it is hard to believe that all those vans have identical towing prowess. If you dig into it further, you will discover that there is no standardized test for determining tow ratings. If there was, I donít really know how you would develop it. A 8000-lb 34' Airstream with six 12" brakes, independent suspension and a low centre of gravity easily out stops and out handles a 5000-lb conventional trailer. It tows easier as well since it has half the wind resistance. On our slalom test we can run the Intrepid with a 34 & Hensley through almost as fast as some vehicles with high tow ratings but also high centres of gravity can go through solo.

Of coarse these days everyone wants to sue everyone else and the RV industry is afraid of getting involved with towing issues and have turned it all over to the vehicle manufactures who really are in a tough position. When I set up an Intrepid I have control of the entire process or I donít do it. We know how it will be wired, we only install positive acting brake controls Hydraulic, Jordan or the equivalent, I know the towing dynamics of the trailer, we have control of the hitch system and how it is set up and we test drive every combination. The vehicle manufactures have none of that control. Knowing what I know about how poorly the vast majority of trailers are set up how lousy most brake controls are and how badly balanced some trailers are, if I was a vehicle manufacturer, I would rate everything zero I would not want anything to do with this industry. When someone comes along with something that can vastly improve the safety like Hensley the RV industry treats them like dirt and wishes they would go away. Even Airstream who could double their sales if they would just option and recommend a Hensley and a good brake control to their customers are scared to death of towing issues. At one of my diatribes at dealer meeting I said you all run around here talking about movie star Airstreams and how neat Airstream are to look at just donít ask any of you to demonstrate towing one. But enough of that.

So if tow ratings are not a reliable measure of how well vehicles tow then you would need a better system for assessing vehicles. Over the years we have developed a 6-step process that we go through.

Step 1) Is torque for initial acceleration and steep hill climbing. This is a relatively simple calculation where you multiply the engineís torque by the first and final drive ratios and then divide by the tire radius. This tells you how much torque you can lay on the road. We divide the weight by this number and we would like to come out less than 7 lbs per foot lb available. If I lived in a very hilly area and was constantly pulling steep grades I might want this down around 5 lbs.

Step 2)The question I get asked all the time is ďwill it tow it in the mountains?Ē My usual response is donít worry about the mountains itís the 3 days across the prairies into a 25-mph head wind that are often the challenge. Where as weight only has to be addressed when accelerating or climbing aerodynamic drag has to be overcome every foot of the way. For this we need horsepower and more importantly enough horsepower at cruising speed in direct gear. Towing an Airstream with a sedan we would like to have at least 100 horsepower at 55 mph in direct gear, 140 if towing with a truck, 180 for a conventional trailer and 200 for most fifth wheels. Interestingly the rolling resistance and Aerodynamic drag of the Intrepid and Airstream combination is only slightly more than a heavy duty truck solo.

3) Will the chassis of the tow vehicle be overloaded? For example we cannot tow a 34' slide-out on an Intrepid because with 1500 lbs of hitch weight it overloads the carís suspension. Most Airstreams if set up properly only put 150 - 200 lbs per tire on the tow vehicle. This is a much bigger issue with fifth wheels where so much weight is carried on just the back axle of the tow vehicle.

Step 4) Will the vehicle last? For this there is no substitute for long term testing, generally the transmission is our biggest concern but since the same transmissions are often used across many model lines we can apply what we have learnt about one vehicle to another. For example the most popular vehicle we have used in years is the Ford Windstar Van. We have set up over 300 of these since 1998. It uses the same transaxle as a 265-Horsepower Lincoln so the 200 horse V6 will never have enough power to harm it. Some vehicles need more cooling capacity which is fairly easy to do with a larger radiator.


Step 5) Handling and stability: This we divide into two areas, one is evasive manoeuver and cornering stability, the other is straight-line highway stability. For example if you tow a fifth wheel it feels very good running down the highway passing trucks, cross winds wonít bother it, they just feel good. Try and run a fifth through the slalom or try and run it quickly down a twisty road with a few frost heaves and all of sudden it does not feel so good anymore. The high centre of gravity, the high pivot point make if quickly become unstable.

When we do our testing the best handling combinations have four wheel independent suspension, Well matched tire & wheel combinations and a low centre of gravity. Instead of assuming how something will work, take it out on a track and measure slalom speed lane changes and then you will see what really performs.

Most full size trucks and SUVís have live axle rear suspensions sitting on leaf springs that are 44" apart fastened to frame rails that are only 38" apart. Even though the tire stance is 66" the suspension stance is only 44 inches wide. When you have independent suspension, the stance is projected out to the tire stance or 62" in the case of an Intrepid. Having a wider suspension stance keeps the vehicle much more firmly planted in aggressive manoeuvres. The other benefit of independent suspension is low unsprung weight. That big live axle weighs a lot and it has to move over every bump in the road when it is moving quickly up over a bump it has enough momentum that it does not move down right away so on a bumpy road the tires are not planted on the road nearly as consistently. As well with independent suspension you can actually have stiffer springs without making the ride feel harsh.

The Intrepid has a much lower centre of gravity than any truck or SUV. In all the hundreds of front drive sedans we have out there I have never had a customer roll a trailer. I have had a couple drive off the road to avoid things another was not paying attention and went into a corner too fast and lost control but they always have slid to a stop. It seems when people do similar things with a truck they almost always roll the combination and what is more interesting if you look at how the hitches are bent during the accident it is often the truck that rolls the trailer not the other way around. An Airstream will slide sideways on dry pavement and stay on its wheels a truck or SUV will not. When you can show me a formula one car with its centre of gravity 18" off the ground Iíll change my mind on this one.

On the Intrepid the tires are 8.5" wide on a 7" wide rim on many trucks you will find 10.5" wide tires on 6.5" wide rims. You want the tires to match the rim width for two reasons. One is that for straight line stability the tire does not sway. Walk up to the back of a new BMW STS or Benz and try and push the back of the car side to side, it wonít move and inch. Next find a truck with 265 tires on it and you will be able to move it a few inches side to side. In an emergency manoeuver the wider rim keeps the tread on the pavement where it will do you some good the narrow rim may be better for off road but in an emergency manoeuver it will not keep that big balloon truck tire flat on the pavement the rim just gets lost in all that rubber. Again this is not rocket science, look at any good road or sports car and you will see a rim that closely matches the tire width. Does it make sense that an 8600-GVWR truck should have a smaller wheel that a 5000-lb Intrepid?

Often people talk about wheelbase like it is the only thing that matters in towing and I must say when everything else is wrong it sure helps with straight line stability. It does not help in an emergency manoeuver as the vehicle has to be turned more aggressively to accomplish the same change in direction. Wheel base and overhang are pretty directly related if you donít believe this try towing a fifth wheel with the pin a foot behind the axle and anyone with a Pul-Rite can tell you what the effects of reducing overhang are. We measure overhang as a percentage of the wheel base and it gives us very accurate comparison, a vehicle with 120" wheel base and 40" of overhang will handle every bit as well as a vehicle with 150" wheel base and 50" of overhang if everything else is equal. If you like to get into State parks and tight campsites that long wheel base will cost you. I can park a 34' with the Intrepid in sites where you would not park a 28' with a long wheel base truck.

Certainly an Intrepid is much lighter than a 3/4 ton truck 4000 vs 6000-7000 lbs. The heavier weight does help with the straight line feel somewhat but it is almost detrimental in aggressive manoeuvres. If all that weight was down near the road where it could do you some good it would help more. On handling the other thing to think about is that you will likely drive your tow vehicle far more miles without the trailer than with it. As a solo vehicle there is no comparison in accident avoidance capability.

Please see the next post for step #6
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Old 04-18-2003, 09:37 AM   #78
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Step #6

Continued from last post

Step 6) Is stopping; There seemed to be a great deal of discussion about losing the trailer brakes on a 10% grade. Generally on 10% grades I like to make sure my brakes are working and in all the years we have been in business I have never had a customer loose a trailer because it got away from him on a grade. When we install a 7-way connecter we only use the metal Bargman brand car ends. The plastic ones and imported metal copies do not hold the plugs together solidly enough. When we set up a car or van we always put the plug inside the vehicle and run it out under the lid or door for towing. This keeps the plug inside out of the corrosion the majority of the time. As well the car end wiring is more flexible than the trailer cord so there is no pulling on the connection. I have looked for a long time for a nice stainless back up connection for trailer brakes just to use for insurance especially on tow vehicles with the factory plastic plugs on them. If you find a nice neat one I would appreciate hearing about it.

On 10% grades engine braking in low gear will pretty much hold the trailer at 30 mph which is better than a diesel without an exhaust brake. At 15% you need some braking as well. What I have always done in steep hill country is downshift of coarse and then used the trailer brakes alone for any slowing I needed. My theory has always been that should you fade away the trailer brakes you will have a completely fresh set in the tow vehicle to stop everything and let the trailer brakes cool off. I have never found a hill where I had to do this but I have brought several combinations to a stop with just the car brakes on a local 12% grade to test my theory and they have always been able to do quite easily with either a wet or dry road even the old Caprices that did not have the brakes the Intrepid has. Brakes have come a long way in the last few years so the 4 wheel discs on the Intrepid likely have more stopping power than a truck did not too many years ago. The latest trucks are finally getting better as well.

At 60 Mph the Intrepid / Airstream combo will stop in less distance than a Truck / Airstream combo likely due to the fact that the car alone stops quicker and more of the trailers weight gets placed onto the front tires during an aggressive stop.

For overall safety, if I am actually going to hit something I would rather be sitting in a large truck. Preferably though I would rather drive something that stops quickly enough and handles an aggressive manoeuver and stays on its wheels well enough that I donít hit the obstacle in the first place. One of the best safety investments you can make has nothing to do with the vehicle. Take the BMW advanced a driving course, you do not have to own a BMW to take it (though you may want one afterwards). It is the best $400.00 you can spend.

Trucks do have their own set of advantages, higher ground clearance for off road use certainly 4wd gives better traction in snow or mud and they sure can carry a lot of stuff. I am not trying to get you to go trade your F350 on an Intrepid. If you like a big truck and enjoy driving it, can afford to purchase and operate it by all means have one but it is not all there is to towing. When you put on a set of tires think about whether or not it is the best size. If you are purchasing a new truck get independent suspension where ever you can and try to get as low a truck as possible. If you like a large SUV, the new Expedition has independent rear suspension, replace standard balloon tires with a tire more suitable for towing and it will out handle any other large SUV by a wide margin.

I am bothered by people saying that we put people on the road in dangerous vehicles. I will put the safety of what we send out up against any other store you want to compare to. For example we install more Hensleyís than all other Hensley dealers combined. If you look in our scrap metal bin, you will see little 2" pieces of shank where we redrilled and cut the shank off to get the ball as close to the axle as possible. We rarely use a bolt together ball mount as they increase the overhang. This means we have to have much more fabrication capability and far more competent people than most hitch installers this costs a lot more but to us it is worth the difference in safety. The slam dunk hitch store around the corner from me does a hitch and wiring in 3 hours. We spend 8 hrs or more.

I donít usually bother with internet sites as I have found the only way to really help people to understand is to put them behind the wheel and let them experience what a modern vehicle can feel like. Since there was so much talk about it on this forum I thought I would try. If you are ever in London stop in and try out one of our combinations. We always have some connected for test drives, I think you will be amazed.

Thank You for bearing with me through all this.

Andy
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:28 AM   #79
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Can-Am Andy?,

Moses has indeed come off the mountain. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. Sincerely, I want to believe!!

Have you ever hooked up a Lexus LS400 for towing? If so, seriously, dead serious, I might experiment with the wife's car, 4.0 liter V8, rear wheel drive, independent rear suspension, low profile tires. I would like to try it, build the hitch myself and do all the work so if it doesn't work out I won't be out a bunch of money and have to buy a Windstar or a Intrepid.

Chas
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Old 04-18-2003, 11:29 AM   #80
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Andy ... very interesting information. Just curious, which sedan produced today would you say is the best tow vehicle to set up?

Thanks.
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