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Old 08-29-2009, 10:42 PM   #1
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Rowlett , Texas
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Asking for your thoughts about my tow vehicle...

Hi all,

This is my first post here, and I'm glad to be a new member!

I'm considering buying a new/late model airstream, and I'm looking for input and on my (currently owned) tow vehicle.

Here's the breakdown on my rig, please be kind 8)..

2002 Toyota Tacoma 4wd, 4-door
-3.4l v6, engine code 5vzfe. Stock hp=190, torque=210.
Engine modifications:
Supercharger (Toyota Performance Division)
Tubular exhaust headers (Toyota Performance Division)
7th injector kit from URD.
-4 speed automatic transmission with transmission cooler.

Ok, yes, it sounds like I've made a bunch of crazy teenage performance mods.. Please hear me out a second..

I fell in love with this generation of Tacoma in '97 when i bought my first one. I only put 65k on it, then sold it to my Dad in '02. (Incedentaly, my dad drove the '97 Tacoma to 240k, never a breakdown, he has a retirement 'farm' and raises mini horses, this '97 stock Tacoma had farm duty pulling trailers with hay, small tractors ect for the past 6+ years. It is still well composed, no rust, no suspension sag, ect..., all and any repairs were normal stuff.. (AC blower motor made noise at 120k, replaced... Front 4wd hub bearing made noise & had to be replaced at 140k, ect....)



Sorry, I love my small frame Toyota. Even though it's now 7yrs old, it's still low milage, (48k).. It has some balls though, After all those engine modifications, per TRD it's supposed to have
+75hp & +100ft lb torque (supercharger)
+15hp & +10-25 ft lb torque (headers & supercharger working in combination)
+? for the URD kit. People have researched this, But I forget...

So, ~280 hp & ~320-340 ft lb torque at the crank Close to most V8's right?

Truck is originally rated at 5500lb towing, 500lb toung.
I know my suspension never got stronger, but weight wise, do you think my towing rating would be slightly higher?

I'm considering 22 foot sport model. 4500lbs fully loaded.

Am i insane?

-Nathan
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Old 08-29-2009, 10:52 PM   #2
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

First off, welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

The combo that you are proposing is probably doable. You need to start looking into sway control/weight distribution hitch system and trailer brake controllers. You are going to need both of these.

The best advice that I can give you is to get your Airstream and try it out with the Tacoma, and see if it works for you.

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Old 08-29-2009, 11:03 PM   #3
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Hi, in my opinion you might be able to tow a 16' or 19' Airstream, but no larger or heavier. There is a lot to be said about horsepower and torque. My Lincoln Navigator 5.4L has 300 ponies under the hood and so does a Subaru 2.5L have 300 ponies. My Lincoln gets it's torque [355 lbs]at a very low, for a gas engine, 2,750 RPM. Will the 300 hosrepower Subaru tow my trailer like my 300 horsepower Lincoln? I don't think so. Point being, horsepower and torque take on a different meaning if it takes 6,000 or more RPM to achieve it. Better for racing than towing.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:10 AM   #4
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Robert,

Good point.

The torque curve from what I can tell on this truck remains quite low, after all, it was low in the original engine specs, and I have not made internal modifications to the motor.

A stock Subaru turbo 2.5l rotating block is built in a different way, it's made to spin up faster. It makes horsepower faster and the torque comes later... Weeee!!! Ex: being the WRX STi, 2.5l, 305hp yadda, yadda.

I assure you, my truck is no STi. It pops your head back if I floor it from a standstill, but the greatest portion of the power is achieved in the lower rpm's... ... ... ..I think...
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:30 AM   #5
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The other thing to consider, besides power, is can the frame of the Tacoma take the extra weight being towed, without buckling? That would be my first concern. My second concern would then be the powerplant and whether it could handle towing its load uphill, sustained for a period of time, without boiling over or blowing. Your engine sounds like it makes good power, but is that power in the right band? If you're making 280hp/340lbft at higher RPM, how long will your engine last under load?

Just the things I like to consider. Hope it helps.
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:35 AM   #6
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Thank you all for posting so many towing posts. I am the proud owner of a 70 caravanner, and don't actually have a tow vehicle yet. So I have been really interested in reading the plethora of posts regarding tow vehicles.
It seems to me that most would agree that horsepower is less important than torque, but could someone comment on how important is tranny strength? Especially if the vehicle in question, whether its a Toyota Tacoma or a Chevy Caprice Classic, has been modified to have increased horse power. Did it come from the factory with a transmition that can handle increased power and a heavy tow load?
I was actually recently considering a Chevy Caprice Classic stationwagon with a 305 v8. And was wondering what kind of upgrades I would need to make to make such a vehicle tow my 25' airstream. I read some about tranny cooler upgrades and I appreciate what Brian posted about brakes and sway control.
How essential are brakes on the airstream?
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Old 08-30-2009, 12:59 AM   #7
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KC,

Welcome to the forum.

Let me answer your questions, in the order you asked them.

1) Tranny strength is extremely important. That Caprice Stationwagon probably only has a TH350 tranny in it. I can deal with the TH350, however I would make sure that it has the deepest pan possible (for extra capacity) and one beefy external cooler. Heat is the big killer on trannies. I would feel a helluva lot more comfortable with a TH400...beefier internals, but I would still put an external cooler on it.

2) The only way to find out whether that Caprice Stationwagon came from the factory with the ability to tow is to have the original Maroni window sticker, or you can try to find the list of option codes and decode them...on my 1972 Suburban, the codes and the translations were in the glovebox. I'd be willing to bet that, with a 305, it wasn't built to tow.

3) Your last question is a tiny bit subjective...let me ask you this, do you like stopping? Seriously, brakes are really important on the Airstream, because they reduce the wear on the tow vehicle's brakes. If you're going down a 6% grade hill, and all you have are tow vehicle brakes, you might as well bend over and kiss your 4th point of contact goodbye. I don't care if you downshift into 1st gear....a few things could happen, you lose your tow vehicle brakes from overheating, you lose your tranny because downshifting just made it work harder or your lose your tranny and your brakes and now you're a 7000lb runaway, praying for one of those tractor trailer runaway ramps (I always wanted to gun it and take one to see what would happen...I'm demented, I know).

So I hope that helped some.
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:05 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by StingrayL82 View Post
The other thing to consider, besides power, is can the frame of the Tacoma take the extra weight being towed, without buckling? That would be my first concern. My second concern would then be the powerplant and whether it could handle towing its load uphill, sustained for a period of time, without boiling over or blowing. Your engine sounds like it makes good power, but is that power in the right band? If you're making 280hp/340lbft at higher RPM, how long will your engine last under load?

Just the things I like to consider. Hope it helps.

Stingray,

Excellent point. This is one of my biggest concerns..

I really feel like I have enough power, but the chassis of the Truck has no upgrades...

5500lbs tow, 500 tung is the rating in the owners manual... This series of Tacoma has a fully boxed frame until just aft of the rear axle. I don't want to exceed that, I don't want to harm my vehicle... I guess that's why I'm posting. I'm looking for someone with a similar weight capacity vehicle that is happy with it's towing performance pulling a 3500-4500lb airstream...
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:12 AM   #9
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Yeah, if it were me, I wouldn't get anything bigger than a 19'.

Good luck.
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:22 AM   #10
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Yeah, if it were me, I wouldn't get anything bigger than a 19'.

Good luck.

Even the sport model?
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Old 08-30-2009, 01:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nbays1 View Post
Stingray,

Excellent point. This is one of my biggest concerns..

I really feel like I have enough power, but the chassis of the Truck has no upgrades...

5500lbs tow, 500 tung is the rating in the owners manual... This series of Tacoma has a fully boxed frame until just aft of the rear axle. I don't want to exceed that, I don't want to harm my vehicle... I guess that's why I'm posting. I'm looking for someone with a similar weight capacity vehicle that is happy with it's towing performance pulling a 3500-4500lb airstream...

Hi, you might want to check out your owners manual for towing specs and check the specs printed on your hitch/receiver. They don't always match, mine don't. The tongue weight is shown with two specs, one for dead weight and the other for with [WD] Weight Distributing hitch. Tongue weight of 500 lbs isn't very much. With little or no safety margin, putting your set-up on the scales will be necessary. Another point of view that always pops up, is buy the trailer you like and you can upgrade to a bigger tow vehicle if needed.
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Old 08-30-2009, 07:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nbays1 View Post
Hi all,



I'm considering buying a new/late model airstream, and I'm looking for input and on my (currently owned) tow vehicle.


So, ~280 hp & ~320-340 ft lb torque at the crank Close to most V8's right?

Truck is originally rated at 5500lb towing,

I'm considering 22 foot sport model. 4500lbs fully loaded.

-Nathan
Hey there Nathan..

I don't know how the Tacoma would tow. I have never driven one but I can give you a perspective.

For many years we towed our 23' / 4,500 lb Safari with a 1993 Nissan Quest. It had a 150HP/180TQ, 3.0 V6 engine. Not quick on acceleration but would cruise all day at 65 MPH. We really liked the handling and stability. The tranny in the Quest was derived from the Infinity Q45 (large sedan with a V8) so we didn't hurt it and the tranny was working fine with over 400,000klm's on the van when it was 16 years old. Photos of this rig are in our photo gallery.

Our new TV has 260HP/260TQ and we have never needed all that power but not complaining about having it...LOL

I would say you have more power than you will ever need for your proposed Airstream but the vehicle itself may not have the over all towing prowess (handling and stability) factor that say our Mini Van had.

If you go for it connection hardware selection and adjustment will be key to get satisfactory handling and stability.

Good luck and let us know how you make out.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:28 AM   #13
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Nathan
Insane? YES Crazy? Just a little. I'm with some of the others,that 16 to19 ft is it with that small frame that will twist up like a pretzel. Remember U can pull a boxcar with that Toyota but can you stop it.???? That truck is so small it can't put up any resistance to sway so even at 16 to 19 feet you should have some kind of sway control.
Dont believe what the manufacturers tell you in thier brochures. Its all sales pitch. They say what ever they want too correct or not. There is no industry towing standard.
Its your truck and trailer you will do whatever you want and are comfortable with,just remember you have to share the road with others and you are responsible for their safety as well as yours.
Just my opinion but,U need more truck if you are going longer than 16 ft.
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:20 AM   #14
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I'm gonna go against the grain here.. If your toyota is rated to 5500 and at max you are towing 4500, and keep the payload to a minimum in the truck you could tow it. Now is it the best choice? not really.. If you can afford to upgrade I would, but not everyone can... My concern would be the wheel base. It's short and the truck is light. That 22 ft is going to push you around some. As far as frame and power, I would like to see you bend or brake that frame. It won't happen towing 4500 lbs...
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Old 08-30-2009, 10:29 AM   #15
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I just checked the specs over at the Company Website. The Flying Cloud 19 footer has a GVWR of 4500#. A Safari Sport 22 footer has the exact same GVWR of 4500#.

So, it would seem that if the TV can do a 19 Bambi, it could do a 22 Sport.

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Old 08-30-2009, 11:12 AM   #16
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Nathan, we're new to Airstreaming too, and have done lots of reviews of the forum regarding tow vehicles. Our sense of most of the posts is that horsepower alone should not be a criteria for your TV. Some very conservative members would recommend a PeterBuilt for your trailer...their theory is that the trailer should not have any influence on the TV. Good theory, but most people can't afford a PeterBuilt for something they tow only occasionally.

For most Airstreamers, the TV is going to be a compromise between what's best for towing and what's best all the rest of the time. Don't push the limits on your TV at any time, but don't buy twice the truck you need unless you're going to tow 90% of the time.

The posts recommending sway control and load distribution are dead-on. These are a must no matter what TV or trailer you have.

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Old 08-30-2009, 11:27 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by StingrayL82 View Post
KC,

Welcome to the forum....


3) Your last question is a tiny bit subjective...let me ask you this, do you like stopping? Seriously, brakes are really important on the Airstream, because they reduce the wear on the tow vehicle's brakes. If you're going down a 6% grade hill, and all you have are tow vehicle brakes, you might as well bend over and kiss your 4th point of contact goodbye. I don't care if you downshift into 1st gear....a few things could happen, you lose your tow vehicle brakes from overheating, you lose your tranny because downshifting just made it work harder or your lose your tranny and your brakes and now you're a 7000lb runaway, praying for one of those tractor trailer runaway ramps (I always wanted to gun it and take one to see what would happen...I'm demented, I know).

So I hope that helped some.
I gotta tell you Stingray, I've always had a desire to hit those runaway truck ramps myself. After your last reply, though, you got me reconsidering that one.
I feel silly asking this, but I guess since I've not yet hit the open road with my trailer I don't really know, are Brakes Standard on Airstreams? Or, more importantly does my 70 Caravanner have brakes? Or, perhaps most importantly should I just get my flashlight and just go outside and have a looksy?
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Old 08-30-2009, 11:44 PM   #18
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I agree with what most are saying. The stability in adverse responses is the key. Straightline towing is easy, it's when things dont go right I'd be thinking about. I also agree that you could pick out your AS and see how it does and upgrade your TV as needed. In any case weight distribution hitch and brake controller a must. I'd really pay attention to the tongue weight. While I have a 24' with a tongue weight of 510, before I add water to the tank that is in the front, let alone any other weight.

Good luck, let us know what you do......
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:09 AM   #19
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For what it's worth, and I don't really know how your older Tacoma stacks up to our 07 (the year they got beefed up and the first year of the new Tundra generation) or if it's even "oranges to oranges"...you be the judge. Our Tacoma is a Double Cab TRD V6 Short Bed with factory tow pkg and anti-sway/weight distribution hitch set up. It's rated for #6500. We tow an 06 19' Bambi with a loaded weight of #4500. Our feeling is that we are fine with the Bambi and the Tacoma performs well or us....we might be able to get away with a 20' and maybe 500 more lbs of weight...but beyond that we are fairly certain we'd want a heftier truck. We decided on the Tacoma/19' Bambi combination because the Tacoma is our every day vehicle and our tow vehicle and we didn't want a big truck to feed...yet something up to the task at hand. So far so good and we've towed some pretty steep grades in AZ. Happy trails!
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Old 08-31-2009, 12:53 AM   #20
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OK we are overboard, 22" Safari, 2009 Tundra and the haha. But we feel pretty safe and the ride is smooth. in fact I actually drove +++forward+++++++++++for a little while. go big on your tv. We just fit ours into the garage. getting better at that
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