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Old 04-13-2009, 08:31 AM   #1
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Chaplain Kent's Avatar
1994 30' Excella
Currently Looking...
Milwaukee , Wisconsin
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E 150,250,350 for Tow Vehicle

Soon the picture next to my name will be changing and my beloved Chummy will have a new owner. I will be rejoining the ranks of the trailer owners. I will always prefer the motorhome for many reasons but since I camp host for the summers and no longer travel a trailer is more piratical. We are looking to purchase a trailer in the 28 to 32 foot range. We do not like any of the big SUV's out there but do like the Ford E series. They have a comfortable ride and allow a spacious feeling which we are used to having while driving on the road. I have read the prior threads about these vehicles as TVs but have some questions for those of you who own and use them. First, is it harder to back in the trailer with a van than a truck? We camp only in state parks and some of them are dicey to get into the spots. Second, I can find many of the 2008 models at the dealers with under 20,000 miles but without tow packages. Some dealers say they can add them some say absolutely not. An internet search and forum search at Ford did not get an answer so what do you think? I know they all come with the transmission cooler but the rear ends differ, I need the 3.73 or 4.10. What else comes with the tow package besides the wiring that a dealer could not install? Towing capacity? Ford rates these things at 6500 pounds which is less than my present F150, 4.6 liter V8. The Ford Enthusiasts forum talks about towing over 15,000 with the 5.4. According to Ford, the E150 has the highest capacity with the 250 and 350 the same. The 250 and 350 will carry more load inside but not tow more. Can someone straighten me out? What kind of hitch do you guys use? Anyone one using a Hensley? Thanks allot for the help.
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Old 04-13-2009, 08:48 AM   #2
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1975 Argosy 26
1963 24' Tradewind
Seattle , Washington
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Hi Chaplain! While I do have a Dodge 1 ton B350 van, some of my experience may be of help. When looking for a van, please stay away from the "extended" models that have the long tail on them... they don't help the stability of towing.

I like the van's manuevability... it's easy to see where your front is (since you're on it), and easy to see all four corners. I can park my 26 ft. Argosy just about anywhere.

A common problem with these van's is that their track is alittle bit smaller than their width. I increased my stability greatly by going up a size of tire... 245/75/16 (on the 1 ton models) with aftermarket 8" rims helped the stability of my van a lot.. it feels solid rather than tippy.

Tow package... really, all you need is additional funds! 1) Hitch 2) tranny cooler (I'd even add on to the "optional" tranny cooler if equipped.. those factory ones are attached to the radiator, and heat up the fluid to whatever temp the engine is running at... not very helpful! 3) I have a 3.9 ratio in my van with my 5.9L engine.. if the van you want does not have the ratio you want, then it's easily added (figure about $700 - 800 dollars) NOT at the dealership but a good tranny or rear end specialty shop... which would allow you to get... 4) I got a limited slip differental added to my van, which made a world of difference in muddy campsites and snow.... hard to get stuck now!

I'd get a 3/4 or 1 ton (probably the e350) if I were you for the trailer you're looking at - bigger frame, brakes, stiffer suspension... all good things! Ideally, if you don't need the seats, you can find a 1 ton cargo Diesel van and have some carpet put in to increase the mileage. I don't think the v10 gets that much difference in mpg vs. the 5.4 from what I've heard.. but I could be wrong.

I use a EZ- lift with 750# bars.. the van tracks even better than when it's not connected. Great t.v.!
Good luck on the search!
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:32 AM   #3
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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Hey CK.....I'm not a Ford follower, but I can tell you that many that I know that are really like the 5.4L over the 4.6L. I know in GM land, when you go from 1500 to 2500 there are upgrades in driveline components. The lines between 1/2 and 3/4 are somewhat blurred compared to 3-4 years ago.

I prefer the 4.10s FWIW. I have seen no negligible hit to MPG as a result directly comparing to 3.73. If you are getting a new(er) Airstream and not a vintage (new(er)weighs more than vintage) then I would for sure go 4.10. If going vintage (3.73s).

Most of the tow packages can include trans coolers and wiring harnesses. More times than not it includes the hitch was well.

I like Reese hitches, but like many that's just a personal choice. Hensley is a great hitch, but expect to pay over $1000.00 used and even more new.

A while ago, Andy from Inland talked in great detail about being "overhitched". I found this to be 100% accurate as with the stiffer bars, and my dual cam sway, I had very little sway control and not really great weight distribution. Getting the least stiff bars with a beefy truck is the best advice I received. Since going to the lowest Reese bars (600lbs), my sway control is excellent as is my weight distribution...I actually now get bar flex. A lot of the parts I picked up online or on eBay (hard to break weight bars and other solid metal components). I think my total cost was about $300 (mostly cause I experimented with 800lb bars, then 600s) for the dual cams (bought new), the bars I bought off eBay and of course ball which I bought new.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:18 AM   #4
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1975 29' Ambassador
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Vans make great tow vehicles.

Here's one way you can do a two'fer (motorhome and trailer both)
That's a 1991 Airstream B190 based on a Ford E350 with a 460 - many of these on the market are set for towing. Even the newer Sprinter based B-Vans are rated to tow 5k lb.

If you are going to get a plain jane van for towing, avoid the extended cab. That keeps the ball closer to the rear axle and that makes for better handling. A long wheel base with short rear overhang is great for trailer towing.

You should have little problem adding a tow package to a van if necessary but it is usually better to have it OEM. The receiver is usually just a bolt on. The wiring is often mostly there already. That just leaves cooling concerns and vans tend to have a bit more concern in that area to start with. Check the mfg tow ratings for an appropriate engine and dif ratio - that E350 is rated for a 15k GCWR based on larger frontal area than my AS provides.

Perhaps the biggest issue is storage for lawn stuff, gensets, or extra fuel that is best not stowed inside for traveling.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:18 AM   #5

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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Not sure about FoMoCo but all GM trucks have the radiator trans cooler, a towing pac gives you the aux cooler in front of the ac condenser.
IMHO, shop for a van with a towing package, add a remote filter w/transmission temp gauge down the road.

Use the HAHA and love it, more importantly the DW loves it, she can actually speak now when towing...well on second thought, oh, never mind.

Good Luck..
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:38 AM   #6
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Parkdale , Oregon
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Chaplain Kent,

We have an 2006 24000mi, E350, V10, dual batteries, 3.73, towing package, Tow/Haul option on transmission, Quigley 4X4, 46 Gal transfer flow fuel tank, In dash Navigation, Hensley hitch.

We donít know anything different in the rear end ratios between 3.73 and 4.10, but this van seems to climb any hill that we ask it to. The transmission will just gear down on steep hills as needed.

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Old 04-13-2009, 12:44 PM   #7
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1994 30' Excella
Mississauga , Ontario
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I tow a 31 foot Airstream with a 2001 E150, 5.4 liter v-8 with 3.55 rear end(positraction).
I have towed through the east coast mountains up to 12% grade with no serious issues.
Can't effectively tow in overdrive. Obviously I slow down on those big grades but so what!
I have a Hensley hitch.
The truck suspension is plenty adequate and the power is fine.
I would have purchased a 3.78 rear ratio but I didn't own a trailer when I purchased the van.
90% of my mileage is without the trailer so if you will be doing the same give some serious consideration to the comfort of the ride when driving empty.
I am sure my next tow vehicle will have the same drivetrain except as mentioned the gear ratio.
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Old 04-13-2009, 01:08 PM   #8
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1968 17' Caravel
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I can't offer much advice. We tow the smallest trailer available with our mighty E150 ClubWagon. I can say that I really like it. I love having all that room inside for dogs and extra 'stuff'. Plus we use the van for work to haul stuff around. And if we want to take our bikes somewhere, or take our raft to the lake, we can inflate it, throw it in the van, and go. Pretty handy. It feels very stable and predictable, and I'm pretty relaxed towing with it. When it's time to replace it, I think we'll be looking for another van.

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Old 04-13-2009, 02:55 PM   #9
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Just a couple of additional thoughts. First use caution about going to a one ton van. For one, the suspension of the one ton van is stiffer, which will probably translate back to the trailer. Secondly, a one ton equipped van does not always have a higher towing capacity. That bigger frame carries more weight and in the GM line, the sweet spot is in the 3/4 range. Going from half ton to 3/4 gets you a better suspension, bigger wheels and brakes. Third consider that custom vans usually are carrying more weight than the equivalent size factory built passenger vans. Fourth stay away from the extendeds in the Ford and Dodge products. As noted earlier the long overhang doesn't add to your towing experience. GM stretches the wheel base out to proportionally take care of the extended length.

My 3/4 ton GMC is with the factory tow package is probably the best tow vehicle I've ever owned. 4.10 rear axle, 6 liter gas V8, external tranny cooler, bigger transmission (I can tow in OD), with a 9,900 lb. towing capacity.

Some of the newer GM (2004+) vans also have a stabletrack system to improve control during hard braking....I'm not sure if Ford or Dodge have equivalent systems.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 05-10-2011, 07:38 PM   #10
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1974 Argosy 28
Coos Bay , Oregon
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Does anyone have any experience with the one ton Ford E350? I have a 1985 extended E350 and bought it for work and to tow my Argosy28 but from what I am reading here I have the wrong van. Who has used an extended E350 to tow their Airstreams and what were your experiences?
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:04 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by jcanavera View Post
For one, the suspension of the one ton van is stiffer, which will probably translate back to the trailer.

Not quite so sure I would agree - my F-350 & the same model year F-250 have the same ride, the F-350 has "helper springs" to assit when the heavier loads are in use - but only when compressed by the larger weight.

So - F-250 or F-350 (E-250 or E-350) would be a Great Vehicle! F-350 or E-350 will let you have more inside the tow vehicle....
John "JFScheck" Scheck
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Old 05-12-2011, 11:51 AM   #12
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2001 30' Excella
Somerset , New Jersey
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I have a friend in Kansas that has towed with a 1/2 t van for many years. He likes it just fine. I've rode with him several times towing his 30' AS. In my opinion the 1/2 t is a too light a chassis for towing the 30' trailer. There are times when I feel like the tail is wagging the dog even if only for an instant. For example, braking in a turn. There are moments when I feel like the trailer is in charge. It may only be a brief moment and then things are fine once again. For that reason it's my opinion that the 1/2t's are just too light. I tow my 30'er with a 1t diesel pickup and never have any question of who's in charge. I have no problem with a 3/4t either but lighter than that I'm just not comfortable. My friend is a very, very conservative driver and he gets along just fine. For those of us that may be a little less conservative ...... ????? I don't see where backing or manouvering will be a problem any more than any other tow vehicle.

Good luck, see ya on the road
Roger in NJ

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Winston Churchill 1948

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