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Old 12-20-2020, 11:28 AM   #1
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2021 27' International
Leeds , Massachusetts
Join Date: Oct 2020
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Specific tow vehicle questions/options

My partner Gail and I are excited to be joining the Airstream community. We will take delivery of our 2021 27FBQ International in June. Like so many, we are in a decision process about a tow vehicle.

Having never owned a truck, I have been reading every word I can on the subject of TVs, and I have watched many videos. Many forum members have offered a great deal of helpful advice and expertise on this topic. Much appreciated! We hope we can be helpful to other Airstreamers someday, once we gain sufficient experience.

For our TV, we have decided on a Ford F-150. I know many of you say that a 3/4 ton truck is needed, but some of you seem to be doing fine with an F-150, and we want to do our best to make that truck work for us. An F-250 or equivalent RAM/GMC truck is just too big and impractical for my daily use.

We want to buy a crew cab, 4x4 truck and equip it to maximize safety (including payload and tow capacity). But even so, there are some choices that involve compromise. We will be grateful for your advice on the following:

1) Bed size.
We originally thought that the 5.5' short bed would be sufficient for our needs (and easier to park). This is not going to be a true working truck most of the time so the bed length/capacity is not an issue on a daily basis. But as a tow vehicle, I notice that the 6.5' bed truck has a 12 inch longer wheel base. Is it worth having the longer wheel base for towing stability?

2) Engine.
We had thought to get the 3.5L EcoBoost engine, but the new PowerBoost Hybrid has caught our attention. It offers more HP and torque, plus the 7.2kw generator looks like a great option. BUT, the Hybrid engine is heavier due to the battery and this reduces payload by 200 lbs. (but perhaps less than carrying a generator for boondocking). Also, trucks with the 5.0L V8 engine offer slightly higher payload. So shall we stick with the popular 3.5L Ecoboost or consider one of these other engines.

3) 4x2 vs. 4x4.
Yes, the 4x2 offers more towing capacity and more payload compared with the 4x4. But we believe that a 4x4 is a more practical choice for where we live in New England (especially during winter). Most of our driving will take place in the northeast, although we aspire to visit many places throughout the U.S. and Canada.

4) Weight distribution hitch.
The ProPride hitch that so many of you like will also add some weight and reduce payload. But this seems like an important safety upgrade, even if it means we must carry less stuff. Do you agree?

I expect many of you will still advise us to get a 3/4 ton truck, and you might be correct. But we are going to do our best with the F-150 and will be grateful for any advice on these or other choices.

Thank you!
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Old 12-20-2020, 11:36 AM   #2
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If going w/ a 150 or 1500 crew cab pickup for a 27’ AS, then yes, I’d step up to a ProPride. I would also go 4x4: I went 2WD w/ my previous Sierra and it was a mistake... I can’t speak to the Ford engines, as I’m in the GMC camp. Bed length, can be argued either way. I agree that a longer WB helps, but even a short crew cab is still a long enough vehicle. What other needs do you have? When not camping, if you need to haul lots of bulky things, a longer bed could be more useful, but if you don’t, a shorter one might have other benefits (easier to maneuver and park in parking lots, a little less weight to drive around, etc.).
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Old 12-20-2020, 11:49 AM   #3
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You will be fine.

We have a 2019 FC FBQ and a Chevy 2WD1500 crew that tows it well and safe.
If you keep within your TV and AS load numbers you will be fine.

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Old 12-20-2020, 12:27 PM   #4
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1976 27' Overlander
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You're going to get lots of replies saying you should do this or do that... but, unless they are where you live and do what you want, both when you are towing and when you are not... you'll still have to make your own decisions!

That said, consider the following. If you buy a longer wheel-base, it better stabilizes your whole unit... but not by much. In other words, it makes a small difference in what is in front of your connection and what follows. But, it is similar to if I towed with a Tahoe/Yukon instead of the Suburban (Yukon XL) that we use. Our total length is 45 feet. Considering the wheelbase difference is a little over 13 inches, the difference is 44 feet vs 45 feet. If I towed with the Tahoe I wouldn't notice the difference. To me, that's insignificant; to you, it may be a big difference.

But, I have the Sube not for the wheelbase, but because of the greater interior storage space - which we use both WHEN we tow and WHEN we do not tow. And, we use the vehicle for everyday use a lot more than when we tow (even though we are in the Airstream from January-April, plus summer trips). Can we store gas for a generator inside? No, but since we use a solar panel for battery charging we don't need a generator; thus, we don't "need" a pickup simply for outside storage.

The biggest other consideration for us is what GM calls a "Max Tow Package" which is harder to find (because every Tahoe/Suburban and I'll bet every F-150 too, comes with a "tow package." (It has a different vehicle code) For GM vehicles, that "max" means differences in oil coolers (there are 2) and bigger transmission coolers, altanator,etc. It takes our official everyday mileage down from 22 to 18 but it tows like a dream. So... to me that is far more useful then somehow thinking a big, honkin' 3/4 ton is going to be "better." You may have similar "max" options on the 150 as well - but you'll have to check.

Ditto for 2WD versus 4WD. We have only used 4WD in some sticky situations on narrow backroads or parked on grass or soft ground. But, where we live we use the 4WD far more in daily use November-March in Montana. And I never think of the fact that somehow that 4WD is taking away from my payload.

And the hitch? We have an Equalizer brand hitch. We believe the difference in weight and "increased" protection from sway (however measurable it may be) is simply not worth (in price and weight) the Henley/Propride systems - but they are very good, certainly. But we have an Airstream. It is aerodynamic and we have towed in strong cross-winds in the West that simply have never produced sway at all. Ditto for the meeting 18-wheelers on a two-lane road; not a bit of sway.

So - that's our experience. Keep in mind, our 27' Overlander weighs a lot less than your new one. But your F-150 choice is a solid choice. People that have them, love them. I'm just giving you our experience in some of the areas you have mentioned. In posts that follow mine, you'll find on Airforums plenty who will disagree, but I don't need you to be like me! I'm simply offering you some anecdotes about my experience.

Hope it's helpful! Sounds to me like you'll have a wonderful Christmas!
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Old 12-20-2020, 01:04 PM   #5
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2019 27' Flying Cloud
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Just another data point for you. We tow our FC27FBQ with a 2018 F-150 4x4 with the 3.5 Ecoboost, and an Equalizer hitch. 5.5 foot bed. Payload on our truck is 1600# which doesn't give us a huge amount of margin, but for us has been plenty. The truck tows the rig effortlessly, with pretty good gas mileage, and the bed and cab have handled everything we need with ease. Glad to have 4x4. No stability issues with our Equalizer...in short, it has been a perfect combination for us.
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Old 12-20-2020, 02:46 PM   #6
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Ditto on the F150. I use mine to tow our 27FB, close to 40,000 miles now in three years. Have the 3.5 ecoboost with 5.5 bed Super Crew. My truck is also the daily driver, need it to fit within standard parking spots in town, and it barely does. It also just barely fits inside the garage.

I like the Super Crew cab with its full sized back seat, carries dogs and people comfortably. Plus the extra large cab is more secure than the truck bed for valuables.

Can't comment on wheelbase advantage's of the 6.5 foot version, but my truck tracks just fine as is. With a longer bed you might be tempted to load more stuff, potentially offsetting any extra payload capacity.

I recommend special ordering one from the factory, you'll want the large extendable mirrors and the optional 36 gallon gas tank.
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Old 12-20-2020, 02:49 PM   #7
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2021 27' International
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PowerBoost Hybrid

Thank you for the many responses!

So far, nobody has commented on the option for the PowerBoost Hybrid engine. Perhaps that is because it is brand new? I would normally prefer not to buy a first generation of a new technology, but it's not like I am going to buy a truck every year, and the specs are impressive (as is the available 7.2kw generator). Seems like most people have the 3.5L EcoBoost, and many also like the Coyote V8. Perhaps it is best to stick with a proven engine?
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Old 12-20-2020, 03:14 PM   #8
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The 3.5 Ecoboost is a proven engine, and very popular. The 2.7 can also work, depending on the load factor. I'd go with the 3.5 for the 27. The 5.0 is outdated, and offered primarily for fans of yesteryear.

The whole question of hybrids is a philosophical debate as much as anything. I'd skip it entirely. In future, hybrids are going to be seen as a halfway solution IMO, and already are by some manufacturers. They are a temporary aberration.

I wouldn't give any points to the onboard generator except for occasional power tool use. Running a vehicle engine at very light load for extended periods of time has never been a good idea. Engines are designed to have a reasonable load applied. Extended idling should be seen as abuse.

A 5.5 foot bed is very short in terms of usefulness for carrying things.
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Old 12-21-2020, 10:51 AM   #9
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We tow our international 25 with a 2013 F-150HD 3.5 ecoboost MaxTow SuperCrew with 6.6 box @ 157 inch wheelbase with 3.73 locking rear end - is an FX4 – meaning 4×2 wheel drive with 4×4 high/low and locking rear wheels available. 2 WD for "normal" driving better gas mileage 4 WD available when required for different road conditions. We installed a 2" front lift for 20" rims and BFGoodrich all-terrain TA KO2 lt275/65r20/e rated tires also recommend install of Mishimoto oil dual baffled catch can kit to keep the "direct injection" of the ecoboost valves clean. We change to oil every 5000 miles truck has 100,000 mile and tows like there is nothing behind it. Been through the Canadian Rocks etc. and 95% of our camping is Boondocking. Love the truck and the Airstream.
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:35 AM   #10
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If you can, order from the factory. You want to get all the options you need for towing, like the towing mirrors, and Max Tow in particular, which gives you the 36 gal gas tank and a few other goodies, like the brake controller. The other reason is to delete all the options that add payload that you don't really need, since you will need all the payload you can get. Many people point to the sunroof as something they can live without. Watch the higher trims as they come with things that add weight, like massaging seats. A lot of people find the Lariat to be the perfect level, it has a lot of comfort features, like leather seats, and also it has 4A mode, which the lower trims don't have, or at least that's how it was in 2018 when I bought mine (this assumes you get 4wd of course). It may be on line now but the dealer also has a handy guide telling you what each option will add to payload, even though most dealers don't know a lot about towing. One advantage or the 3.5L EB is that you don't lose power when towing in the mountains as you do with a normally aspirated engine like the 5.0L. PS I have about 1650 lbs payload in my F150.
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:49 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drbrick View Post
recommend install of Mishimoto oil dual baffled catch can kit to keep the "direct injection" of the ecoboost valves clean.
The second gen EB 3.5 has both direct and port fuel injection. So on a new one, this shouldn't be needed.

I am also a fan of this engine. Lots of torque even at low RPM's.
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:51 AM   #12
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We have towed our 1967 Airstream Overlander many thousand miles with a half-ton truck (Nissan Titan). Overall, the towing experience has been positive. It looks like the dry weight of your new Airstream will be about 5868 pounds. Our weighs considerably less. As a general rule, I think it's good to be "weight conscious" when towing.

To your question, bed length doesn't hurt but every foot makes parking spaces a bit harder to find. Ours is a crew cab with a short bed, works fine. I wouldn't have anything but 4WD because of boondocking. It doesn't take much to get a 2WD pickup stuck. We've always used a WD hitch.

It's easy to get focused on the technical stuff, but the single most important factor is experience. I think of towing like flying an airplane. I do a walk around before pulling out, every time. I have a checklist. I try to err on the side of caution.

You're going to to make mistakes, particularly in your first 100 hours of towing time. Start with some easy route, get a sense of how everything feels, and plan your routes carefully. After the first 100 hours, you'll have a sense of the creaks, groans, and noises that are normal, and those that warrant a check. As my grandfather would say, the most important part of the truck is "the nut behind the wheel."

If you're comfortable with the F-150 after the first few trips, it will just get easier over time.
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Old 12-21-2020, 12:36 PM   #13
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You are receiving great advice on equipping the half ton to tow your AS. I would add that the crew cab is the way to go and to consider going to Ford.com and “building” & “pricing” an F150 the way you want.

Why order a TV? I have never found factory tow mirrors, or Heavy Duty Payload Package (HDPP) at a dealers lot. Without this package your payload will be less than 2,000 lbs and with it you will probably exceed 2,000 lbs. Pls note that when I looked at this Ford site a couple of days ago, the HDPP was only available on the 5.0L version and for XL’s and XLT’s. Higher trim levels do not offer this important package. By ordering you can select the exterior color you like, plus many options for wheels and tires.

Other comments already suggested that the 36 gallon tank is a huge benefit when towing.

Bed length - go to a dealers lot and look at the short and standard beds for the F150’s and estimate what you will take with you during camping trips. Add about 50% more than your estimate and you might be close to the total list of stuff you bring camping.

Topper for the bed provides security and safety from the elements. We love this feature!

June is so far away, I hope you are patient! I recommend you join WBCCI and a local club, once you accept delivery of your new AS! Consider attending the International Rally next summer along with as many as 700 other AS’ers! It will be held near Gatlinburg, TN.
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Old 12-21-2020, 02:51 PM   #14
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I agree with superCHOP, there is a lot of good advice here. Allow me to add my words of wisdom.
We have a 2018 30' Classic that we tow with an F250 diesel and an Equal-i-zer hitch. We ordered the truck in 2014 when the F150 was a long way from where it is now. Looking at the new hybrid F150 now. Factory order is the only way to get the right truck. This time around we will go with the short bed. Something we will continue are the truck cap and a Bedslide. The cap give us vertical room and the Bedslide or a Cargo glide allows us to get to everything in the bed.

Working at a dealership gave me the opportunity to tow with a variety of hitches. We settled on the Equal-i-zer as a solid towing option. Cost and weight advantages over the Hennsley/ProPride hitches were a factor. I can honestly say after 15 years the Equal-i-zer is as stable as the others.
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Old 12-21-2020, 06:07 PM   #15
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I towed with the Blue Ox. Switched to Propride. World of difference. I have a 2020 F150 that I ordered. Pull 28’.
1) Get 20 inch wheels. Adds 200’lbs to the rear axle capacity.
2) Get towing mirrors. I bought mine with BLlSS, and put after market towing mirrors with BLISS.
3) Get Max Tow Haul with 36 gallon tank.
4) The new 3.5 Ecoboost is a power horse with 400hp and 500lbs of torque. A big upgrade. I would avoid the Hybrid until it has been battle tested.
5) Definitely 4WD with rear locking differential.
6) I also ordered mine with the side steps and tail gate ladder. But then I’m 65 and jumping in and out of trucks is a bit harder than it used to be. And I’m in good shape for my age.
7) I like the super crew cab. Nice if you have passengers when not towing. Also a bit more interior storage when the seats are up. I have the shorter bed. Just because it is easier to park.
8) I use the Propride. Made a world of difference. Remember you can put stuff in the Airstream. I pack all the light bulky stuff in the bed of the truck (except for tools). It has to go somewhere.
9) Consider the roadmaster suspension sytem. Eliminates the porpoising and helps with squat. Others have installed Bilstein shocks.
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Old 12-21-2020, 06:45 PM   #16
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I'll join the others that have recommended ordering a TV. Like you said, you don't plan to buy a new truck every year - so why not get it exactly the way you want it? Personally I have an F-150 with a 6.5' bed, the 3.5 EcoBoost, Max Tow, and Heavy Duty Payload Package (HDPP). The HDPP limits the options you can get on the truck, but you'll have more than enough payload to handle the AS and anything you want to bring along. My payload is 2341. The EcoBoost has tons of power and has been road tested for many years now. I've never towed with Ford's V8 so I can't speak to that particular engine. And if you do order don't forget to add the tow mirrors! Happy searching!
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Old 12-21-2020, 07:03 PM   #17
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We have a new 2021 25’ Int. and a 2020 F-150 Lariat 4x4. short bed. 3.5 Eco.
I sold a 2006 F250 diesel to get this truck. Many thought I was nuts and I even questioned my judgement myself. However I will have to say that I have been very impressed so far. Especially with towing. The 3.5 is a beast. Couple that with the 10 speed transmission and you’ve got a solid combination for towing. Ours has the max trailer tow package. You can get that with lariat trim which for comfort and convenience I highly recommend. Not worth the little bit of payload you gain to sacrifice the lariat features in my opinion. I have 1700lbs payload which for us is enough. Most dealers at least where we live are stocking lariats now with max tow. You get the 36 gallon tank, 3.55 locking diff.,auxiliary coolers, stabilizers, 20” wheels etc. As others have said, don’t even consider not getting 4x4. A 2wd could spin in wet grass backing up an airstream. Short bed ok for us so far as well. Cannot comment on the ProPride even though many love it and from the research I have done it’s the top of the line. We bought the equalizer and so far I have no complaints. Drove from the dealer in Tampa ,FL 500 miles home to Ga along I-75 at 68 mph with no sway whatsoever.
As far as the hybrid. I wouldn’t consider it. Just too many unknowns especially being 1st generation. Like others have said, the generator just doesn’t seem like a good idea to me. Spend $1000 on a Honda 2200i and convert it to propane. You can run off trailer LP port and it’s as good as anything built in and more dependable.
Congratulations on the new trailer and have fun truck shopping!
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Old 12-21-2020, 07:26 PM   #18
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Pretty good advice so far. since you're set on a 1/2 ton, be sure you get one with 12,500 tongue limit to account for the loaded trailer and the 200 lb Propride. With 12,500 tongue weight limit and the Propride your combination will be plenty stable. The Hensley design is superior and dramatically reduces sway, oversteer and jackknife risk, nearly as much as would making the leap from a max tow 1/2 to a typical 3/4. The extra 12 inch wheelbase will further improve stability by about 8-10% so you should consider it if it does not eat too much into unhitched drivability.

As others have mentioned, think carefully about the hybrid, you already noted the extra weigh and payload is generally the thing that dissuades most who tow 25-28' trailers from using a 1/2 ton. I could never get all my stuff in and stay below payload limits with the lights engine. Using it as a generator is also not a good idea as jcl explained. It may also affect towing capacity in mountainous areas depending on how well they have worked out battery regeneration while towing.
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Old 12-22-2020, 08:18 AM   #19
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F150

We special ordered our F150 Lariat 3.5 to pull our 2013 27 fab We passed on the sunroof to pick up xtra cargo capacity and have used 4 wheel drive numerous times to pull up gravelly hills or wet.grass. We opted for standard mirrors and are happy with snap on tow mirrors. We also got the tow package with larger gas tank and we’ve been happy with our Husky centerline hitch. Good luck with your new trailer!
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Old 12-27-2020, 10:18 AM   #20
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EcoBoost is Plenty; F150 will be fine.

We tow a 27FBT Classic with an Expedition 4WD and EcoBoost. Works great, even in the mountains. Our hitch is a Hensley. We had a ‘16F250 before the Exped, and disliked it from the time we bought it new due to miserable ride quality.
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