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Old 07-06-2017, 09:29 AM   #1
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2017 28' International
Baileys Harbor , Wisconsin
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New To Airstream Need Advice on Pull Vehicles

My wife and I are considering an Airstream. Probably in the 25 to 28' range. As I read the forum all kinds of options. A bit overwhelming. Due to where I live year round would prefer GM, Dodge, or Ford pickup, since servicing etc would be easier. So hear are some questions that those experienced could help with, since I feel like a bit of an idiot on this. And maybe I haven't even asked the right ones:
1). Diesel vs Gas?
2). What kind of towing package features are essential? Transmission etc?
3). F 150 or F 250 type pickup?
4). I have read a fair amount so far about eliminating sway. What is important to get right away on pickup and which model is better or easier to set up to eliminate it.

I would probably use this vehicle outside of towing during the year. I live in WI so 4X4 is essential due to snow etc.

Would appreciate the wise counsel of this forum. And I know people will have different opinions, but at least that will give me some place to start. Thanks.

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Old 07-06-2017, 10:35 AM   #2
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2016 30' International
Florence , Alabama
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RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel. Get the snow plow prep so you have the option if you want in the future.

Big truck will handle the trailer great, but I like using a BlueOX with mine for sway and some extra WD

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Old 07-06-2017, 10:50 AM   #3
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2017 30' Classic
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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To toss a few more things on the list:

1) New off lot?
2) New, special order?
3) Used ?

In order to get things "just right" number 2 is the only way to go. Otherwise you are either giving up on options you want or paying for options "you don't need". That sounds like a slam dunk for number 2. The gotcha is that your list may be different next week than it was last week .... I'd still suggest that 2 is a pretty good choice if you have the time.

There is a fairly wide range of capacity options on both the F-150 and the F-250. As you load up on the various "tow" options, tow capacity of course goes up a bit. The thing to watch is that payload may also be impacted. Often you run out of payload before you hit tow limits. How soon depends on how much you haul in terms of stuff and passengers.

Coming back to the options thing: You don't just pay for options. They also weight something. You haul them around all the time. Do you *need* 4x4 (vs a locking rear axle)? If not, it's heavy and expensive. Same question diesel vs gas. If you take a look at the delivered weight on many trucks, even the little stuff apparently adds up pretty quickly.

All that said, the step from F-150 to F-250 is not as crazy as it once was. The days of clunky F-250's are long gone. That's not to say they are identical, they aren't. It's just not the dramatic change it was in years gone by.

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Old 07-06-2017, 10:51 AM   #4
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2018 27' Globetrotter
Hanover , Pennsylvania
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How often and where will you be towing? Across the rockies or just to and from a local state park or commercial camp ground? Will you be doing boon docking? If you can answer these questions it will help narrow some of the choices.

These issues may determine how much payload is required, which is a bigger issue than towing capacity as most any 1/2 ton (F150 type) can tow an AS in the size range you mentioned.
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Old 07-06-2017, 10:57 AM   #5
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Clifton , VA
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Smile 2010 Suburban 1500 Z71

My wife and I bought a 2016 25' FB Flying Cloud. We just completed a 500 r/t trek to the Roanoke area of the Blue Ridge (VA). Suburban did well on the highway; adequate towing up the steep portions of US 221.

We prefer the suburban because of its versatility as a family vehicle. We bring our dogs and children with us not only camping but on other outdoor adventures that include fishing, skiing, day trips and the beach. The 1500 Suburban 5.3 L will rev much higher while towing the Flying Cloud. The trailer mode switch does add some continent stability and gearing features.

Ideally my next vehicle will be the Suburban 2500 or Silverado 2500. The torque a diesel provides cannot be matched by a gas engine. However the initial investment and operating cost of the gasoline 2500 vs the diesel 2500 is much more palatable. When comparing both, initial cost and fuel cost, one would need to drive the diesel model over 100,000 miles to fully recoup the additional cost.

Consider how you will use your Airstream and the need versus want of a diesel. I'd rather invest the difference in a big screen tv, beer on tap and a couch.
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:09 AM   #6
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I hear that the Smarts make great tow vehicles....

(kidding... )
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2014 Airstream Flying Cloud 30 Recliner - WBCCI #4850 - AIR #110821
2018 Nissan Armada SL Tow Vehicle, Equal-i-zer Hitch
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:16 AM   #7
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2013 30' Classic
Greenwood , Mississippi
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There will be lots of opinions here.
Here's mine:
30' Classic towed by a Tundra- so... gas and 1/2 ton.
Love my truck and trailer.
Have used an EazLift hitch and it did well.
Currently use an Equal-i-zer which is easier/less steps to couple/uncouple.
Would buy a ProPride hitch if I was a millionaire, but would also buy a new Classic 30 twin with brown leather, light would, and light counters and a new Sky Silver Metallic Tundra CrewMax Limited with a 36 gallon fuel tank, tow mirrors, and black leather...
2013 Classic 30 Limited
2007 Silver Toyota Tundra Crew Max Limited 5.7 iForce
2006 Vivid Black Harley-Davidson Road King Classic
1999 Black Nissan Pathfinder LE
TAC #MS-10
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:28 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by FCStreamer View Post
I hear that the Smarts make great tow vehicles....
Yes, but you will also need a 200 lb. weight distribution hitch with built in sway control. Add a St. Christopher medal from the rear view mirror and yer good to go!
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Old 07-06-2017, 11:28 AM   #9
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Melbourne Beach , Florida
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For peace of mind, the 3/4T diesel can't be beat. You don't have to recoup the full cost differential, some of that will be returned when you sell it. My F-150 specified oil changes every 5000 miles. My Ram 2500 diesel is 15,000 miles or 6 months. If you put a lot of miles on a truck, the oil changes on a diesel may be less expensive, on average, than a gasoline engine.

A couple of times I have had to use 4WD to pull out of a grass campsite after a rain. I wanted 4WD for winter use in NC anyway, but it has been used while towing.

That said, there are several, if not many, on here pulling 25' to 28' trailers with 1/2T trucks. F-150s with the large V6 and EcoBoost, and Tundras with the iForce V8 are popular and well liked.

Look at the driver's door sticker for the weight limit for occupants and cargo, sometimes called payload on here. Subtract 700-900# from that for tongue weight. That's indicative of how much stuff you can carry in the truck when towing. Think about your passengers, pets, cargo, etc. that you might put in the truck. Don't be misled by the brochure numbers, they are the maximum the truck could end up with. Every option added subtracts from that number. If you go with a 1/2T, be sure to get the towing package with the 7-pin trailer connector, not just the 4-pin. Either get the truck with a brake controller or add one. Get the max payload package if one is available.

Don't count on the sway control built in to the truck to take care of trailer sway. Get a hitch that does that. I used an Equalizer for three years. I never felt any push from passing vehicles, at least no more than I felt with the truck alone. I traded for a Propride, but more for ease of hooking up and unhooking than because I felt the Equalizer wasn't adequate.

I started towing a 25 with a 2006 F-150. It had a tow package which included the harness, hitch receiver, and a transmission cooler. It did not have a tow/haul switch and only had a 4-speed transmission. It was under stress towing in the Blue Ridge. A more modern truck with a 6 or more speed transmission and tow/haul would do better. Diesels have an exhaust brake because they do not inherently have the compression braking that a gasoline engine does, but the exhaust brake gives them engine braking capacity that exceeds the gasoline engines.

I traded my F-150 for a good used Ram 2500 with the diesel engine. About a year later we decided we wanted to trade up to a 30' trailer. The Ram is totally adequate for it. I wouldn't go back.

"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"
Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
WBCCI 1322
2002 Classic 30 Slideout -S/OS #004
2013 Dodge 2500 Laramie 4x4 Megacab Cummins

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Old 07-06-2017, 11:41 AM   #10
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2011 25' FB Flying Cloud
SW , Colorado
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My husband wrote two detailed posts about how we selected our tow-vehicle set-up - links below. We have a 2011 25FB Flying Cloud and bought a 2014 Chevy Silverado 1500 + ProPride hitch for towing. We live in Colorado and go over mountain passes all the time. This set-up has worked really well for us, with about 2.5 years of towing/living in our trailer to date. A few of our Airstream friends also have the Silverado + 25FB or 27FB pair and are very happy, too.

You can see our posts here:
Sarah Marino
Full-Timers - Working from the road and photographing along the way
Our travel blog:
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Old 07-06-2017, 12:11 PM   #11
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2016 25' Flying Cloud
Sapphire , North Carolina
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20000 pulling miles

We have a 2015 Ford F150 pulling a 25 foot Airstream and have been super-pleased for over 20,000 trailering miles (50k total miles). It has the V8 gasoline engine and gets about 11 mpg while trailering and about 20 on the highway on its own. I would recommend the crew cab with the short bed; very roomy and very comfortable for up to 5 people. It is so comfortable and convenient that we have gotten rid of our family sedan. The 4X4 is a standard option, however, get the trailering package and the extendable mirrors. We also have the larger tires; not sure if they are needed, but they do look good and we have yet to require replacements. Excellent all around vehicle that has a competitive price point.
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Old 07-06-2017, 12:50 PM   #12
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Battle Lake , Minnesota
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We were able to purchase a new 2012 Ram 1500 Hemi 5.7 with over 400 ft lbs torque fully towing equipped for $24000. We added a $2500 ProPride hitch for absolute stability in all road and weather conditions. It got 13 mpg towing our Airstream, but more importantly 20 MPG highway without the Airstream. Never a single maintenance problem.

It was a perfect match for us and our equipment, and our fully-loaded FC25RB. It took us throughout the country many, many times. To use a well-worn description, we never felt the Airstream behind us, 99% of the time. The 1% was climbing and descending steep grades when we slowed the rig own for a safety margin.

That's the bargain move and a good starting point. We used ours 4 years/50K miles towing extensively and traded for a fancier Ram (still with about 400 ft lbs torque). We got $20K trade-in plus all the discounts on the new truck.

Ford, Chev, Ram, Tundra, Nissan half-tons. They are all a terrific value at the base levels and fully capable of mid-size Airstreams. Look for lower axle ratios (3.92 for example) for more power at the wheels, or 8 to 10 speed transmission for best overall performance.

Mid-size Airstreams are 25' through 28' where the actual difference is 2 feet in length and 300 lbs GVWR, which amounts to nothing. Fully loaded, they all will weigh near 1000 lbs on the hitch before weight distribution, which will distribute 200-250 lbs of that weight to the trailer axles, leaving you with 750-800 lbs added to the truck. The Airstream full independent suspension, low center-of-gravity, and rounded frontal and side profile makes the an easier tow than other travel trailers.

Weigh and watch the truck's axle loads to ensure they do not exceed the truck's GAWR (front and back individual gross axle weight rating indicated on the door jamb) after applying your weight distribution hitch tension bars. You will most likely need 1200 to 1400 lbs w.d. bars to get full weight distribution, verified at a truck (CAT) scale.

There are larger and smaller vehicles that can be set up to do an excellent job. We found the half-tons to be a great value, a comfortable ride, easy to handle, and highly useable commuting and around home when not towing.
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

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Old 07-06-2017, 12:53 PM   #13
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Tampa , Florida
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New To Airstream Need Advice on Pull Vehicles

I did the research two years ago. SWMBO wanted up to a 30' Classic.

Doing the numbers, I ordered a 2016 Dodge Ram 2500 with Cummins Diesel. She then decided on a FC 27FB.

I ordered a Pro-Pride hitch from Sean and had it shipped to Colonial, where we drove away in Nov 2015, all connected up for our first ever towing experience down I95.

Last year, she decided she wanted a 30' FC Rear Queen. So up we drove to NJ, got the hitch swapped over, and traded for the 30'er.

We've been on extended travel pretty much ever since. I have 38,xxx miles on the truck. Love it. The Diesel exhaust brake is awesome. Most memorably in Death Valley down a -10.5% grade into Furnace Springs.

Driving the truck is effortless. It's the same width and within a few inches of a half-ton. And a bit taller.

I've found Diesel, especially out West, costs between regular and premium gas. On the flat at 55 I can get up to 14.9 mpg. In the hills maybe 11 or 12.

I've had the oil and fuel filters changed three times, always by time. I put a new air filter in (Amazon, $22). I had the dealer change T-case and front/rear diff fluid at 25K.

Otherwise no issues.

The advice on the forum is sound, if you average it out. You need to decide how 'you' tow, then work the numbers for the trailer you have in mind. Lastly, add whatever margin factor you feel comfortable with, and make a pick within your budget. There are a lot of safe options out there that don't break the bank.

Good luck.

2016 30' Flying Cloud / 2016 Ram 2500 Diesel 4x4

“Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.” - J.C. Watts Jr.
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Old 07-06-2017, 12:58 PM   #14
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2017 30' Classic
Anna Maria , Florida
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Originally Posted by FCStreamer View Post
I hear that the Smarts make great tow vehicles....

(kidding... )
Your Smart Car would pull it no problem, all you need is a Pro Pride or a Hensley hitch and you are good to go. :-)
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Old 07-06-2017, 01:11 PM   #15
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It's a smart, not a smart car. You don't say ford car do you?
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Old 07-06-2017, 01:30 PM   #16
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2018 27' Flying Cloud
Calgary , Alberta
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Tow vehicles

There's probably over a dozen vehicles with the required towing capacity, but I drive a GMC Yukon. The shorter back end reduces the potential for sway (compared to the longer Suburban & Yukon XL). There's plenty of internal storage room, and a roof line that is long enough for the biggest car-top carriers on the market. And if you're not into car-top cargo carriers, check out the TracVision A9 flat car-top satellite TV receiver! It's pricey, but a cool concept. I haven't pulled the trigger on that one yet!

Many, if not most, Yukons come with the heavy duty towing package, including hitch, wiring, oil cooler, & "Tow Mode" selector.
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Old 07-06-2017, 03:51 PM   #17
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2011 30' Flying Cloud
Greenback , Tennessee
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Opinions on tow vehicles are like belly buttons ... everybody has one. Does cost enter into the equation? Some folks here seem to like all the bells and whistles, on the biggest truck available. Deep pockets make it easier. Others seem to opt for the low-priced, under-powered vehicles touted by the RV salesmen. (They would rather you put your money into the trailer!). In my opinion (yes, I have one too!), a 3/4-ton truck is the best option for a 25' or larger trailer. It has sufficient suspension to carry the trailer, plus your bed load, and it will stop the rig when you need to. Gas or diesel is a toss-up for that size trailer. Good luck in making your decision.
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Old 07-06-2017, 03:52 PM   #18
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2014 30' Classic
Princeton , Iowa
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I can see why you are confused. We have so many opinions. I am 74, drove a truck over the road as a young man, am "close with my money" and personally change my own oil, rotate tires and do most repairs.

I have a FC 26U and my TV is a Chevy Silverado 1500 with a 5.3 engine and 4 wheel drive. I think it is prefect.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:07 PM   #19
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Woodinville , Washington
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I will echo LLandro88:

This year, we've put 25K miles on our 27FB pulled with a Ram/Cummins 2500 4x4 shortbed. Absolutely no problems. If I had to do it all over, I'd still get a 27FB (altho my sweetie's fallen in love with the new 33), and for $400 more, I'd get a 3500, whose owners consistently tell me it's ideal for pulling a trailer (ie, better than a 2500). For our 25K miles, we averaged 13.5 mpg, with a range between around 10 uphill against headwinds & over 16 (flat freeways at a constant 60-65 mph); empty, I've gotten over 22 on flat freeways at a constant 60-65 mph.
Alta & Richard, Seattle area --- WBCCI 8873
"Aurum": 2018 Ram/Cummins 3500
"Argentum": 2016 AS FC 27 FB
"BigDog": M Harlequin Great Dane, 150 lb
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Old 07-06-2017, 05:23 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by avionstream View Post
It's a smart, not a smart car. You don't say ford car do you?
I say Ford truck.

Bobbo and Lin
2017 F-150 4x4 SuperCab 3.5l EcoBoost V6
2017 Flying Cloud 23FB "BobLin Along"
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