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Old 06-10-2021, 08:58 AM   #1
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Payload Help - Flying Cloud 30' Bunk

New to Airstream ownership and need to get the right tow vehicle. I have researched at length and I am leaning towards a Ford F150 for many reasons (it's smaller so my wife and kids can get in easier, it's what I would prefer to drive for day to day use plus the ability to have a 7.2kW generator for boondocking).

All the numbers I have run work but my issue is that the configuration we are going for has 1,840 payload (with 4x4) or 2,120 (with 4x2). I imagine 4x4 is pretty necessary but can I get away without this to get the extra 300 lbs? I'm guessing it is not worth the trade off.

I have attached a spreadsheet screen shot showing how this works out. There is some room to play with but small variables could make us go over on payload or GVWR. For example, the kids will get heavier (but the lack of 3 car seats will also go away which will even it out for a few years). I am not entirely sure how much we need in the truck versus putting more in the Airstream as we tow. I also realize that in winds this won't be as ideal so I am planning to add something like a Pro Pride anti-sway hitch (additional 75-100lbs).

Any advice would be appreciated. As a sidenote, yes I fully realize that the 250 solves this problem and I could just bring a generator along but I would really like the Hybrid engine with the 7.2kW onboard.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:12 AM   #2
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This is a very front-heavy trailer; you have vastly under-estimated your hitch weight. I previously owned a 2019 FC 30Bunk. Most notable about the bunkhouse is the only real storage options are under the front bed. When loaded up for a trip, my measured tongue weight was 1200 lbs. If you use real-world numbers, does your analysis change?

I personally know 2 other 30Bunk owners who initially pulled with brand-new half-ton trucks or full-size SUVs. Now, each owns 3/4-ton trucks. When I asked why they upgraded, each responded: "On paper, my TV was adequate. In reality, it was quite a struggle--even with a Hensley-type hitch. That was an expensive learning, for sure!"

Good luck with your choice.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:20 AM   #3
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Been there; pesky physics

I can appreciate your dilemma. I started with an F150 Ecoboost without carefully considering the payload limitations, instead weighing heavily the daily driver features and book towing numbers, hoping to achieve some sort of "dual-optimization" result. Had we selected the smaller AS we originally thought about, we might have pulled it off. I have never personally seen an F150 with a payload over 2000lbs, but know they exist if you limit your trim level and order the Heavy Duty Payload Package (HDPP) which includes stronger frame elements and running gear. Note: The payload numbers in the typical sales brochure are near useless. I've heard Ford now has some online materials that will help calculate actual expected payload for new trucks.

We selected a fabulous slightly used 27 International Serenity FBT. The published tongue weight was 200# under actual. Others here will say that is typical. And even with a ProPride, we felt the AS was the big dog in the arrangement. Everything worked fine, but it wasn't relaxing and I was always stressing about axle weights and ground clearance. Did I say DW collects rocks? People and stuff just seem to get heavier over time.

I overreacted and found an F350 with the same trim level and a sticker payload of 3340lbs - a fabulous tow vehicle. Two seasons later and tired of maintaining two trucks - plus an opportunity to trade both into an F250 with 2200lbs payload and a healthy margin in axle weight ratings - made the swap with cash back to boot.

Result is capable tow vehicle with a slightly softer suspension and the retracting steps provide a superior entry/egress experience that is a very good compromise. After two seasons, we have a pretty good idea about how we "roll" and are very comfortable with that payload number.

End of the day - there will be compromise. When operating aircraft we were daily faced with decisions of this sort and frequently yearned for just 100 lbs more capacity. I came up with a reminder: There is a point at which offloading fuel to make more room for people and stuff simply makes the trip impossible - or very short.

You may want to see if you can rent a half-ton truck of some brand to see if that compromise is acceptable before you buy. Not cheap but well worth it.

Welcome to the AS family and forums!
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:35 AM   #4
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Historically, I am not one of the “you MUST use a heavy duty truck” guys but, in this case, I think you need to go to at least 3/4 ton. The 30’ bunk is a big, nose heavy trailer. The tongue weight will eat up most of your payload. You have kids who will want to bring bikes and toys. You will want a grill and camp chairs…

I know that the built in battery/inverter system on that spiffy F150 is might tempting but is it really practical? Do you really want to limit your payload so that you can use the prime mover in your $60k truck to do what an $800 dual fuel generator can do?

I would look hard at a F250 with a gas power plant. I have a diesel 5/8 ton (Nissan Titan XD) and, yes, the fuel mileage is nice but the fuel is pricier, there is DEF and $$$ oil and fuel filter changes. Gas is everywhere and cheaper.

Good luck with whatever you do
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Old 06-10-2021, 02:38 PM   #5
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Bmidlam,
Nice spreadsheet, though I would leave out the can of gas and factor in more for clothing, coolers, food, etc that will keep your crew comfortable on those long hauls.
The other thing about spreadsheets and other project proposals: they tend to turn into what you want to see. As an engineer, we would compare a budget to a rat facing a hole the size of a quarter. He can squeeze through, but when he comes out the other side, he’s still the same rat. You can focus on the specs and ratings, but when it comes time to head for the mountains or the beach, Mom and the kids will want their comforts, and you’ll want a vehicle capable of hauling them.
I agree with others that that’s just too much trailer for a half ton truck. Our first serious trailer was a 28’ Sunnybrook (bought back when they actually were light construction) that we towed with an E350 club wagon. Yes, a bit horsey driving solo around town, but it did the job on the open road, with less of a mileage penalty than a smaller engine would incur.
Happy travels, whatever you decide!
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:07 PM   #6
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Fully loaded with a full fresh tank. My 2021 30Bunks hitch weight is 865lbs. with my Hensley Arrow installed. Its almost 200lbs. less than my 2020 Int. 25FB. It has a lot to do with storage locations. Front exterior storage: Folding chairs, outside Matt & awning lights, the rest goes in the rear outside access. Under the front queen: dog bed, paper towel, toilet paper. I have a 3” thick memory foam topper on the queen. You can place more of the heavy items in the rear. The 30bunk gives you the flexibility to load it with a manageable hitch while still keeping it at 10-12% of gvwr.
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Old 06-10-2021, 03:53 PM   #7
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As has already been said, you are underestimating the TW of your AS. And I am not sure where you got your payload numbers, 1,840 payload (with 4x4) or 2,120, but I have never seen a 1/2 ton with these numbers in the flesh.

Each truck will have its own specific payload or cargo capacity sticker on the truck. They are all different depending on trim level and options. Example, a Platinum F150 4x4 has approximately 1200lbs of payload capacity.
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:00 PM   #8
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The worst I have seen is mine, 1,280 fo the limited. Platinum is typically 100 lbs more. The most I have ever seen is 1,800.
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaybauman View Post
This is a very front-heavy trailer; you have vastly under-estimated your hitch weight. I previously owned a 2019 FC 30Bunk. Most notable about the bunkhouse is the only real storage options are under the front bed. When loaded up for a trip, my measured tongue weight was 1200 lbs. If you use real-world numbers, does your analysis change?

I personally know 2 other 30Bunk owners who initially pulled with brand-new half-ton trucks or full-size SUVs. Now, each owns 3/4-ton trucks. When I asked why they upgraded, each responded: "On paper, my TV was adequate. In reality, it was quite a struggle--even with a Hensley-type hitch. That was an expensive learning, for sure!"

Good luck with your choice.
Thanks for the feedback Jay, that makes sense. So at what point in the trailer do items not affect the tongue weight? Safe to assume that everything from the bedroom through to the hitch counts but nothing else further back? I naively just used the hitch weight displayed on AS site. Either way I cut it the numbers are really close. Safe to assume that going to a 4x2 isn't worth it for the 310 lbs right?
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by n2916s View Post
Historically, I am not one of the “you MUST use a heavy duty truck” guys but, in this case, I think you need to go to at least 3/4 ton. The 30’ bunk is a big, nose heavy trailer. The tongue weight will eat up most of your payload. You have kids who will want to bring bikes and toys. You will want a grill and camp chairs…

I know that the built in battery/inverter system on that spiffy F150 is might tempting but is it really practical? Do you really want to limit your payload so that you can use the prime mover in your $60k truck to do what an $800 dual fuel generator can do?

I would look hard at a F250 with a gas power plant. I have a diesel 5/8 ton (Nissan Titan XD) and, yes, the fuel mileage is nice but the fuel is pricier, there is DEF and $$$ oil and fuel filter changes. Gas is everywhere and cheaper.

Good luck with whatever you do
Thanks for this, very helpful! My plan was to stuff the smaller items like grill, camp chairs, etc...in the back of the trailer exterior storage where possible. I agree that the onboard isn't necessarily worth it but I guess I have this romantic idea that I will have the option to boondock somewhere without the roar of a gas powered generator (not to say the truck won't make some noise but from what I have seen it's pretty quiet). I do agree with you, just stubbornly trying to fit a square peg into a round hitch
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:59 PM   #11
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I have been in a number of campgrounds with some gravel in the site, or even grass, that when a bit wet, if I did not have 4x4, I would have been stuck. There is nothing more useless than a 4x2 on a wet, slippery surface.
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:05 PM   #12
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Bmidlam,
My first serious TV was a Ford one ton van that would slip on snot (and not a lot of it!). Negotiating sloping, sandy campgrounds was an adventure. Getting around solo in the Illinois winters was an adventure. Getting the least bit off the lane in my backyard was a nightmare.
If you are NEVER EVER going off pavement or driving in icy conditions, the 4X2 will be sufficient.
My subsequent TV’s have been 4X4 pickups. I’ve used the feature only a handful of times (I am NOT adventurous). Still, no regrets.
Happy travels!
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thewarden View Post
As has already been said, you are underestimating the TW of your AS. And I am not sure where you got your payload numbers, 1,840 payload (with 4x4) or 2,120, but I have never seen a 1/2 ton with these numbers in the flesh.

Each truck will have its own specific payload or cargo capacity sticker on the truck. They are all different depending on trim level and options. Example, a Platinum F150 4x4 has approximately 1200lbs of payload capacity.
You are right, I was having trouble finding the trim level changes in payload and didn't realize there was such a large change for the higher trims.
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
Bmidlam,
My first serious TV was a Ford one ton van that would slip on snot (and not a lot of it!). Negotiating sloping, sandy campgrounds was an adventure. Getting around solo in the Illinois winters was an adventure. Getting the least bit off the lane in my backyard was a nightmare.
If you are NEVER EVER going off pavement or driving in icy conditions, the 4X2 will be sufficient.
My subsequent TV’s have been 4X4 pickups. I’ve used the feature only a handful of times (I am NOT adventurous). Still, no regrets.
Happy travels!
This was hilarious to read! Makes sense. I have a 4x4 option now on my SUV but it beeps the ENTIRE time it's on so I rarely use it preferring to slip around in the snow versus the constant beeping
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s1000pre View Post
The worst I have seen is mine, 1,280 fo the limited. Platinum is typically 100 lbs more. The most I have ever seen is 1,800.
Stewart, do you know if there is a resource (other than the tag on each individual truck) that lists the change by option/trim? Thanks for this
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:22 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GetawA-S View Post
Bmidlam,
Nice spreadsheet, though I would leave out the can of gas and factor in more for clothing, coolers, food, etc that will keep your crew comfortable on those long hauls.
The other thing about spreadsheets and other project proposals: they tend to turn into what you want to see. As an engineer, we would compare a budget to a rat facing a hole the size of a quarter. He can squeeze through, but when he comes out the other side, he’s still the same rat. You can focus on the specs and ratings, but when it comes time to head for the mountains or the beach, Mom and the kids will want their comforts, and you’ll want a vehicle capable of hauling them.
I agree with others that that’s just too much trailer for a half ton truck. Our first serious trailer was a 28’ Sunnybrook (bought back when they actually were light construction) that we towed with an E350 club wagon. Yes, a bit horsey driving solo around town, but it did the job on the open road, with less of a mileage penalty than a smaller engine would incur.
Happy travels, whatever you decide!
This makes a lot of sense and I love the analogy. I over-analyze (which I suppose is good as it saved me from buying a half ton truck) and can't help but put everything in a spreadsheet.
Thanks for the info!
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:34 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmidlam View Post
Stewart, do you know if there is a resource (other than the tag on each individual truck) that lists the change by option/trim? Thanks for this
No, you literally need to open the door and look at the door sticker to get an accurate number. As others said, I wouldn’t consider anything but a 4x4.
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Old 06-10-2021, 05:46 PM   #18
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I'll throw in my $.02 The 1/2 ton is likely capable, but not necessarily optimum. If you're talking about a handful of trips yearly you'll likely be fine. I towed my 30' Bunk for 4 years with my 1/2 ton GMC Sierra Denali all over the SE. Even with the larger motor it was slow in the mountains and I started having issues with the transmission heating up on long climbs. Last year I upgraded to a GMC 2500 diesel. For towing it is an absolute pleasure to drive. Because of that we actually take more trips without worries of where we are going or what we can bring.
My biggest dislike of the new truck is the size for daily use. These newer trucks are getting unnecessarily large. Just something to think about.
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:24 PM   #19
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The diesel is certainly worth considering, not only for the power to climb hills effortlessly but more importantly the engine brake to slow you down going down the other side.

I set my cruise at 65mph, and that is where it stays, up steep grades and down the other side without the need to ever touch the brake pedal. And, all while, rarely shifting a gear.
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Old 06-10-2021, 06:40 PM   #20
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Resource to find individual truck payload/tow specs

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmidlam View Post
Stewart, do you know if there is a resource (other than the tag on each individual truck) that lists the change by option/trim? Thanks for this
I don’t know about Ford but with the RAM line go to their website and build your truck with all of your option/trim level desires. Then the website will ask if you want to send your build to a dealer or check inventory. Chose check inventory and if there is a match or something close, check the details which will include the vehicle VIN number. Copy the VIN and then go to the “Look Up My Vehicle”tab, paste in the VIN and while you will not get all of the info given on the door jam label, RAM provides the max payload and max towing which really the info that you need.
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