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Old 01-19-2009, 07:03 AM   #1
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Ford F 150 as a towing vehicle

I plan on buying a Airstream 23 or 25 International. I currently own a Ford F 150 Supercrew with 5.4 engine and towing package. I also have an equalizer hitch. I live in a mountanious area and would appreciate any information or comments from people who own the F 150.
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Old 01-19-2009, 07:47 AM   #2
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I plan on buying a Airstream 23 or 25 International. I currently own a Ford F 150 Supercrew with 5.4 engine and towing package. I also have an equalizer hitch. I live in a mountanious area and would appreciate any information or comments from people who own the F 150.
I have a 2001 SCREW with 96k it tows a 25 Safari fine. I tow in flat land and minor hills. In mountainous areas you will have to slow down and take your time. The newer SCREWS have more power.
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Old 01-19-2009, 08:15 AM   #3
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We have a similarly outfitted F150, but using one depends on several factors.

1. What year is your F150? My understanding that older models don't carry what new ones will.

2. What is the weight of your Airstream? Our 1967 Sovereign weighs in at a whopping 4,650 dry, so not a huge problem for our F150, even here in the Rocky Mountains.

3. Is your F150 a long bed or short? It does make a difference.


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Old 01-19-2009, 09:14 AM   #4
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Try to keep the GVW of the Airstream below 80% of the GVWR of the truck and you should be OK. Granted, if you are close to the 80% mark, you will not race to the top of the mountains and you will loose some power as you reach higher elevations.

My rule-of-thumb when selecting a diesel to tow our 30' Safari was up to 25', a 1/2 ton is sufficient, 25' and over, I wanted a 3/4 ton. You don't have to go diesel, you could go with an F-250 with the V-10 and have similar towing comfort and capacity. The only difference is that the gas engine will aspirate at elevation and the diesel won't...at least not nearly as soon.

BTW, I also have an Equal-i-zer brand hitch.
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Old 01-19-2009, 09:17 AM   #5
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I plan on buying a Airstream 23 or 25 International. I currently own a Ford F 150 Supercrew with 5.4 engine and towing package. I also have an equalizer hitch. I live in a mountanious area and would appreciate any information or comments from people who own the F 150.
Feel free to visit all my past postings regarding our 08 f150 towing nationwide a 28 safari. On the road currently going into Colorado, the damn thing is bullet proof.
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Old 01-19-2009, 10:14 AM   #6
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There has been a lot of discussion on this subject. Your tow vehicle should be fine.

As you live in the mountains a lower gear ratio might be an advantage. A cheap easy way to get lower gearing is to install low profile tires. This not only makes your trailer draw easier, the stiffer tires have the added advantage of reducing side sway.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:45 AM   #7
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In '04, FOMOCO changed the 5.4 engine from a 2 valve per cylinder design to a 3 valve per cylinder setup. This boosted the HP rating up to 305 with a corresponding increase in torque. If your F-150 is '04 or newer, you won't have any problem. We've got a Safari 27 FBSE (actually 28' long) and have towed across the mountains without issue. The main thing is if you're on secondary roads, be careful of clearances (sides and overhead).
On the interstates, turn your OD off and take your time. As always, on long down grades, don't be shy about using the engine for braking by downshifting. This keeps you from burning out your breaks.

I believe even if you've got the older style motor, you should be ok.
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:10 AM   #8
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If a Tundra or my '08 Sequoia can tow a 28' no problem I don't see why you would have any problems with an F150. I should be a great TV.
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Old 01-21-2009, 01:26 PM   #9
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A properly equipped 150, with their best engine, will tow anything Airstream makes. The key word is "proper".

Anything else is a gross waste of money.

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:29 PM   #10
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I tow a 26' Argosy with the smaller 4.6 V-8 engine in an older '97 F-150. It handles the trailer well.
1997 F-150 4x4 short-bed (factory tow package)
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:35 PM   #11
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I pulled a 30ft Excella (8000lbs) with my 1998 F 150 for six years, from Michigan to the West Coast and to the most southern point in the U.S.; Key West. As we are now "half timing" and because we needed a new truck and since the deals were irresistible we moved up to a F 250, 6.4 diesel. The difference is remarkable. As long as we were towing on the flat lands without head winds the F 150 was super but I recall the pull in and out of Lake Tahoe, CA. We have not experienced that struggle in the Appalacians and when we return out West I think the new tow vehicle will perform much differently
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:57 PM   #12
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You should buy a chevy but otherwise you are ok equiped I just came home from WI in my chevy 1500 and had no problems and I have a 26ft and it was fulllllllllllllllllll...
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:20 PM   #13
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You should buy a chevy but otherwise you are ok equiped I just came home from WI in my chevy 1500 and had no problems and I have a 26ft and it was fulllllllllllllllllll...
That is an excellent tow vehicle as well.

It's not necessarily what you buy, it'a how do you equip it.

Transmission oil coolers, are always far better than anything any factory installs.

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Old 01-21-2009, 09:00 PM   #14
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I'm with Andy on this one. Look at the tow package and see what you are getting, and the gages you are also getting. If you move up to a 3/4 ton you will have more power but less of a ride when not towing the trailer, or even towing it. Now the 1/2 tons come with pretty big engines with lots of torque.
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Old 01-21-2009, 09:24 PM   #15
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We should also include in this discussion the final drive gear ratio... in many cases even with a bigger motor, if the final drive is too low (say 3.55), you'll get much worse tow performance than if you have a higher ratio (say 4.10) - forgive because I dont exactly remember the ratio on the Ford rears...

I once had a F-150 with a lower rear (1994) for my 22 ft Safari, and it did OK on flat roads... but even with downshifting, hills or inclines posed some challenges -and some higher temps on the transmission. I live in NJ, but still decided that a 3/4 ton pickup (from Chevy, a 6.5 turbo diesel) would serve me, the trailer and all the gear I was carrying a whole lot easier and alot less stressfully. On the road itself, the chassis on the Ford did great with a stock setup, and as long as I wasn't pushing it, it was fine.

Check your weights, (calculate the weight of your trailer and your stuff), see where it falls... and dont forget to include the final drive ratio in the equation.
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Old 01-21-2009, 11:49 PM   #16
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F-150 or F250?

Hi, I was thinking, into the future, that if my Lincoln ever wears out that I might buy a good used F-250 V-10 gasser. But now that Ford plans on having a new, larger, gas engine for the 2010? F-150. [6.2 L V-8] I might plan on that instead of the F-250 for 2012 give or take a year. For now the 5.4 L 32 valve V-8 Lincoln does just fine.
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Old 01-22-2009, 08:47 AM   #17
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Hi, I was thinking, into the future, that if my Lincoln ever wears out that I might buy a good used F-250 V-10 gasser. But now that Ford plans on having a new, larger, gas engine for the 2010? F-150. [6.2 L V-8] I might plan on that instead of the F-250 for 2012 give or take a year. For now the 5.4 L 32 valve V-8 Lincoln does just fine.

With more than 24k miles towing a 28 mostly in the western regions of this country I find this drive train combo to be incredible. This last trip included a complete coastal tour on 1 or 101 and lots of turns and hills. Having a console shifter is very valuable in downshiftng and saving the brakes. I run her hard and it never even stumbles once. Just checked the oil after 5 k miles of abuse and right on full. Ford has done me right.
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Old 01-22-2009, 12:45 PM   #18
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Keep in mind, it is not just whether the engine will pull the trailer but other factors as well. Things to consider are: is the transmission strong enough to hold up to the amount of towing you plan on doing; are the brakes adequate; is the chassis strong enough to handle the stress of the transfer of weight with the weight distribution system; is the cooling system adequate to handle the load of the trailer and air conditioner on grade during the summer; is the differential gears adequate to handle the load of the trailer on grade; is there a transmission cooler and is it adequate for the type of towing you plan to do; is the alternator adequate for the electrical load you will have; how often do you plan to tow each year and how far; and how long do you plan to keep the truck--will you keep the truck for 8-10 years or will it be someone else's problem in 4 years? If you plan to make one 1,000 mile trip and maybe one or two weekend trips per year then a half-ton truck is plenty, but if you plan on using the truck to tow with as often as we do (monthly on average) and make 4-6 1,000 mile trips per year (like we did last year) and plan to keep the truck for 8-10 years like I usually do, then it probably makes sense to go with the heavy duty truck.
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Old 01-22-2009, 01:13 PM   #19
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Keep in mind, it is not just whether the engine will pull the trailer but other factors as well. Things to consider are: is the transmission strong enough to hold up to the amount of towing you plan on doing; are the brakes adequate; is the chassis strong enough to handle the stress of the transfer of weight with the weight distribution system; is the cooling system adequate to handle the load of the trailer and air conditioner on grade during the summer; is the differential gears adequate to handle the load of the trailer on grade; is there a transmission cooler and is it adequate for the type of towing you plan to do; is the alternator adequate for the electrical load you will have; how often do you plan to tow each year and how far; and how long do you plan to keep the truck--will you keep the truck for 8-10 years or will it be someone else's problem in 4 years? If you plan to make one 1,000 mile trip and maybe one or two weekend trips per year then a half-ton truck is plenty, but if you plan on using the truck to tow with as often as we do (monthly on average) and make 4-6 1,000 mile trips per year (like we did last year) and plan to keep the truck for 8-10 years like I usually do, then it probably makes sense to go with the heavy duty truck.
Minnie's Mate is correct. If you tow like I do a few trips a year in flat land then a F150 will do fine. Since I saw MM last I dropped about $2500.00 into my F150. New tires, new brakes and rotors, new shocks, everything flushed and adjusted. The truck has 96K on her and I am going for 150K. The cost of F250 brakes and shocks are going to cost more but will more than likely last longer. I had several reasons I decided not to trade, one is have a 14 year old son soon to be 15 who will start driving soon and it will be in a truck for the first few years. The second is I plan to do a lot more traveling in the future when the wife retires which is when I will move to the F250.
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Old 01-22-2009, 06:44 PM   #20
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We have a 2005 5.4 supercrew that we use to pull our 1988 34' limited. It is plenty strong for the job so I think pulling a 23 or 25 footer would be absolutely no problem. Only time I have ever felt slightly uncomfortable was going down the mountains out of Asheville, NC where the grade gets a little too vertical for me. Good luck.
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