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Old 02-02-2003, 12:17 PM   #1
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Question Towing with a 2001 VW Eurovan MV....

Greetings everyone.

I am new to this forum and web site, so excuse me if this has been beaten into the ground.

My wife and I own a VW Eurovan MV Weekender (poptop) and have had nothing but wonderful camping experiences in this vehicle. We lived in this for one month straight while on vacation at Zion, Arches, Yellowstone, Tetons, and a whole bunch of places in between.

We now have a real desire to get into an AS Bambi 19'. I would like to use The VW as a towing vehicle for the Bambi.

About the VW: Engine= 201 hp 2.8 liter Six clynder, 4 speed auto trans., ESP (electronic stability program) Fully independent suspension. Front wheel drive with low speed traction control. Max. permisable traler weight= 4500# Max. tongue load=220#

Bambi 19' specs: Hitch ball height= 18"Hitch weight=500
# GVWR=4500# UVW=3600# NCC=900#

The $32.000 question is can the VW tow this vehicle in most conditions, or do I need some sort of monster SUV or truck. The Bambi brochure states that "you can tow it easily and safely with your SUV, mini-van, or many popular cars". Ive been reading a little bit about stabiliztion units on ASForums as well. Do you reccomnend this for the above set-up?

It was also brought to my attention that I might have to install an auxilary transmission cooler. My VW service dept. claims that the transmission is already cooled to a certain degree with the cooling system already on the van.

Would there be any special considerations for tires, shocks, etc.

Your help is appreciated.

Jonathan-
A hopefully sooner than later Bambi owner.
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Old 02-02-2003, 01:24 PM   #2
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Hello Jonathan

You have a diverse crowd here so you may get some varied opinions.

One big plus is that you already own one and you like it.

The specs look fairly good. Your van weighs over 4500 LBs and uses the infamous VR 6 engine. Four wheel independant suspension is a plus. You get maximum torque at 2500 RPM. Good! The wheelbase is not bad at 116 inches and the rear overhang very short. Powerwise it might not be great in the steep mountain passes out west.

There may be concern with the hitch weight. You may need a custom hitch but that isn't a major problem.

You would need an extra tranny cooler
Equalizing hitch, brake controller, and sway control.

My combination works very well. You would have a smaller trailer and more power than me.

Note... The new Bambi and my 1973 23' Safari would be similar in (travel ready) weight. I suspect the 23' Safari would have a towing stability advantage with the tandum axles but the two extra wheels/tires would create more drag.
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Old 02-02-2003, 06:03 PM   #3
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There was a guy here that pulled his 19' with a honda oddessy. He used a Blue Ox Hitch. He said he had no issues and he had 90,000 miles on van I think..

There is a dealer that pulls a new 30' behind a dodge intreped. Also has driven over the mountains.. Can-AM Andy look them up on Airstreams page and talked to Andy there.
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Old 02-02-2003, 06:13 PM   #4
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The only concern I have is with the VW having a max 220# tongue load and the Bambi having a 500# tongue weight. Not sure if a "Weight Distribution" type hitch, or Hensley Arrow would solve the problem or not. Maybe additional air bag suspension on the rear axle would help. I would think any WD hitch would solve the problem. Only way to tell is to hook it up and see! If the WD hitch can level the whole rig, I would say your good to go.
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Old 02-02-2003, 06:35 PM   #5
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Jon,

I understand your attraction to your Eurovan, especially a 2001 model. I had a 93 MV model. I absolutely loved the utilitarian nature of it, so roomy, good handling and unique but it did have it's major flaws. Underpowered, undersized brakes and screwy transmission. I do believe they cured most all of that when they came back for the second time in the late 90's, VR6, four wheel discs and a bigger tranny. I have a dealer brochure that does show for the 2001's they can tow a 4,285 lb. braked trailer. I am not sure about hitches or tongue weight, believe me mine had plenty work just pulling itself around. Once it got up to speed it was smooth sailing though.

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Old 02-02-2003, 07:05 PM   #6
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Hi Chas

I just looked up the 1993 MV. Like you say it would surely struggle getting up to speed. It would have a 2.5litre, 5 cyl. rated at 109 HP. The VR6 is now up to 200HP, almost twice as much.
The GVCW is high at 1500LBs. Probably built to take all the camp stuff that people may want to build into these buggy's.

I think Pick is right on the money. With a rare vehicle like this, one almost needs to go out and hook one up and see how it works.
Best idea is call "The Man" at Can Am. He would probably know best. Good idea JPAIR.
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Old 02-03-2003, 09:02 AM   #7
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That you all for being so responsive. I'll try to find Can AM. I assume this is a place that deals with hitches and the likes.

About that tongue weight though, I am a little confused. Is there really 500# of downward preasure from the hitch? When I went to the RV show last weekend to look at the Bambi, there are two propane cylinders, and I think a battery. What if you take 300 pounds of stuff that you pack and place that in the rear of the AS, to sort of counter balance the trailer. Or is this dangerous. I plan on actually weighing every piece of equipment, clothes, etc. that we normally bring on a trip to see what kind of weight we actually schlep around. I don't think it is anywhere near the 900# limit for the Bambi, although, with the water tanks ful, that quickly adds up. Unless the 900# limit takes into account the tanks being full.

As far as weight distribution, are there any advantages to putting the things we normally pack in the van, or distributing stuff evenly throughout the AS?

Assuming I need weight distribution hitch, wiring, and so on, what can I expect to pay (roughly) for install.

On another point, and I'm not an engineer, there has been lots mentioned about going up hills/grades. I would figure that that is the time when you would through the auto trans into 1 or two. Maybe even doing this from a full stop. Would this help aleviate wear and tear on the tranny?

And what about these trans coolers/ Sheeesh....do I really need to get fitted for one of those?

I have surrendered to the fact that most of my driving will be in the right lane, going no more than 60-65 mph, and let the world pass me.

Thanks again for allowing me the bandwidth....

Jonathan
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Old 02-03-2003, 09:19 AM   #8
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Can someone lead me to Can AM. I did a search and did not come up with anything. TIA. Jonathan
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Old 02-03-2003, 09:29 AM   #9
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crazy,

Tongue weight is not necessarily a bad thing, if you have too little or too much it can be a problem. A good properly adjusted weight distributing hitch will take care of any excessive weight. Too little tongue weight and too much rear end weight will put you "white knuckling it" and have the "tail waggin the dog" in no time so I would forget about shifting more weight to the rear. You could put 500 lbs. in the back of your Eurovan and see what it does. The short single axle units seem to have more tongue weight than some of the midsize units, for instance my 22' single axle Minuet had more tongue weight than my 27' dual axle Overlander. I would be curious to see if the tongue weight of a Bambi was as much as 500 lbs. though, I would think it would be more like 3 to 4 hundred myself.

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Old 02-03-2003, 09:44 AM   #10
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Transmission cooler. Jon, these are inexpensive items that are fairly easy to install. Mine was bought and installed for about $150. cdn. They are important.
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Old 02-03-2003, 06:32 PM   #11
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crazylev said.......

Quote:
Unless the 900# limit takes into account the tanks being full.
The 900# does not take into account water in the tank, so you have to include that in the calculation. Expect your fresh water holding tank to be somewhere around 200# full. I am pulling a Bambi with a 99 Landrover V-8, 100" wheelbase. It works fine, though I would not rate the 'Rover as a great tow vehicle (just lotsa fun to have once we get there), and it does struggle a bit on steep grades, drops to second to maintain 45MPH. My vehicle is rated for 5500#, and I wouldn't want to get any closer to that maximum than I am with the Bambi. One thing I suggest is that you tow without water in the fresh tank, most destinations have water available on site or nearby.
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Old 02-03-2003, 07:50 PM   #12
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crazylev,
I advise against using your Eurovan for towing anything this close to it's limits. I am somewhat familiar with these vehicles. They are more or less designed to be people haulers, and in Europe they do duty as light duty delivery trucks everywhere. This is where they shine, and perform very well. The VR6 is a great engine, but has little torque for towing. The front drive axles and transmission mounts etc are not designed for extended heavy towing. All the tires, wheels and brakes are light duty - towing puts immense stress on tow vehicle components. The Eurovan is a very superior travel vehicle, fast and comfortable, but towing was not in it's initial design goal.
But then it all depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. Maybe for short trips in flat areas, unchallenging trips etc. it would be fine. I tow with a 1ton Dodge van, and within the last year, I was often quite glad to have a sturdy tow vehicle which weighs enough to enable control maneuvers with a trailer. I encourage you to think about your safety and the safety of those sharing the road with you. Some of the posts on this subject sound a bit like overkill, but remember they come from experience. Good Luck
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Old 02-03-2003, 10:19 PM   #13
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crazy,

I am in general agreement with Uwe. It sounds like you want to have your cake and eat it too. If you are really serious about Airstream'ing you need to decide if you want to RV in your Eurovan Weekender or an A/S Bambi. I know there are people here that seem to be happy doing it with the smaller vehicles but I would say it is the exception, not the norm. People can quote horsepower all day but when it comes down to it when it comes to towing torque and displacement is king.

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Old 02-04-2003, 08:53 AM   #14
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I do love the Eurovan, but the main consideration here is to not have to go out and spend money on a new tow vehicle if the VW could work. On top of all this, I have to consider a new garage, or a place to store the AS. I live in Chicago, my garage is located off an alley.
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Old 02-04-2003, 09:02 AM   #15
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Old 02-05-2003, 07:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by JPAIRSTREAM
There was a guy here that pulled his 19' with a honda oddessy. He used a Blue Ox Hitch. He said he had no issues and he had 90,000 miles on van I think..

There is a dealer that pulls a new 30' behind a dodge intreped. Also has driven over the mountains..
Good examples JPAIR

During the last 25 years there has been a vast amount of research and testing with passenger type vehicles towing larger A/S's north of the border. Hundreds of vehicles over millions of miles.

A properly connected combination is important.
Trailer brakes relieve braking stress from the vehicle.
Weight distibution hitches greatly reduces the added "carrying weight" stress on the vehicle.
Surprisingly it has been found that very few problems occur as a result of passenger cars/mini vans towing an aerodynamic trailer.

Uwe brought up a good point about usage. Full time towing is different than part time towing. Most people tow with their vehicles less than 20% of the actual miles of total driving.

Hope this helps explain the reasons why passenger car/van type vehicles have a good track record. Their performance and reliability factors are enhanced buy towing an Airstream rather than a square trailer.
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Old 02-06-2003, 09:21 AM   #17
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Yesterday, I called Drawtite and talked at great lenghth with Tim about Recievers, Weight-distibution units, sway bar, etc.

I am learning alot about this stuff.

From what I understand, the first thing I would need to have installed is a Class 3 reciever on my Eurovan. A place called Delan(?) sells those, but when I called asking some basic questions, they were anxious to get off the phone. Drawtite sells the weight Dist. units. Apparently this would be not only a good way to go, but the only way, at least for piece of mind. How I understand it is if say my vehicles tongue weight is 220#, the WD actually increases that capacity by double, 440#, because the weight is being spread toward the back of the trailer. It is important that these are set-up correctly before driving off. Due to the fact that the rear end clearance to the ground of my Eurovan is questionable, I would also need something called a shank(?) so that the trailer will sit level. I was told that sway bars are sort of optional, but was reminded that with out them, if a semi passes you going 90mph, you would really feel it.

One of the tricks to miniize this sway, was to open a window or two on the trailer. Does not seem practical if it's raining out.

I also asked Tim whether the 'plug' for the brakes and trailer lights arre universal (same size) throughout the RV industry and the short answer was no. He mentined there is a Coleman style, some sort of square or rectangular style, and the round ones that the AS uses.

In any case, to get set-up with something that would give the little lady and I comfort going down the road, it looks like we would be spending 600-700 dollars on parts, plus whatever installation cost there may be.

I realize the above has no affect on the torque and pulling power, etc. BUT...

If I went this route, does this make those who thought pulling a Bambi behind my Dub questionable any less questionable?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, past and present.

Jonathan
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Old 02-06-2003, 09:23 AM   #18
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I forgot to mention, I tried to get ahold of Andy at Can Am, but he is out until Monday. I'll call him then....
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Old 02-06-2003, 10:06 AM   #19
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Receiver

A really competent hitch place (such as Magnum or Spillar here in Austin) should be able to design and weld up a receiver for your Eurovan. I had a receiver for my Mercedes locally at a very reasonable cost. They stock the receiver tubes, square tubing, and sheet stock so that it is just a matter of measuring, cutting, and welding.
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Old 02-06-2003, 10:12 AM   #20
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Jonathan,
The parts and modifications you mentioned would apply to any tow vehicle, not necessarily making your VW into a tow monster. A weight distributing hitch would definitely be on my list for any tow vehicle towing a trailer with a 500lb tongue weight. I might skip the sway control system for a trailer this short on a heavier tow vehicle, but would definitely consider it for your VW. This, however, might be one of those rare situations that can't be fixed by throwing cash at it.
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