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Old 04-08-2021, 09:05 AM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
I actually like the direction of the discussion above with respect to compromises and the consequences of the choices that we all make when buying a vehicle. This is true for a vehicle of any type. For example, I own a Porsche 911 cabriolet. Itís a wonderful car and I love it. It has over 600 HP, it has amazing carbon ceramic brakes, and it handles like nothing else on the road. That said, it comes with many compromises. Itís small inside, it has a useless back seat, the ground clearance is so low that I canít get into some driveways, I canít carry more than one carry-on sized suitcase in the truck, etc. itís a car that was built for sport and driving enjoyment, not for hauling passengers and cargo. It excels in that capacity.

When Iím not driving my Porsche, Iím usually driving my truck. Itís big and comfortable. It has heated and cooled seats. It can haul lots of stuff. It can tow my Airstream. However, itís a gas guzzler compared to the Porsche. It is a pain in the ass to park, especially in tight parking lots. It doesnít brake or handle as well as the Porsche. These are the compromises that I make when I drive the truck. Itís certainly not as fun and sexy as the Porsche.

In the case of many people who like to camp with an Airstream or other trailer, a second vehicle used primarily for towing simply isnít a good option. They are forced to make a choice on how they will handle this, and where they will compromise. Most go for an SUV with the towing capacity that they need, but without the compromises required when driving a truck. This isnít a bad choice. The SUV option typically results in a lower towing and cargo capacity than a truck, resulting in a small to medium sized trailer choice. Again - this isnít a bad thing, itís the compromise that you make with that type of vehicle. Another option is buying a motor home and driving whatever car you like. Many people take this route.

I think the challenge becomes significant when people push the limits of a compromise vehicle like an SUV. They either push it with a less capable tow vehicle, or with a larger and heavier trailer. The simple fact is that if you compromise on the tow vehicle by purchasing something thatís easier to live with as a daily driver, then you also have to compromise with something thatís smalller and lighter for your trailer. Thatís the nature of compromise. Itís not a bad thing, itís part of the compromise.

Iím not pushing the philosophy that everyone needs a big truck to tow an Airstream. All Iím saying is that if you choose something less capable than a truck as your tow vehicle, then you need to adjust your expectations and requirements for your trailer. Do the research on the tow vehicle, on the trailer, and the combination. If the research shows that the combination works, then go for it. If the research is inconclusive, or shows that itís not safe, or that youíre right at the maximum limits of your chosen combination, then itís time to reevaluate your priorities and adjust your choices. Compromise.


Exactly.

(And nobody has responded to the very suspicious fact that a large number of SUVs all have the same tow specs, despite different manufacturers, architectures, and equipment... undermines the argument to stay exactly where the published number is, because that published number is not based solely on engineering, but rather marketing and legal considerations)
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Old 04-08-2021, 09:31 AM   #102
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It’s amazing how much marketing plays into the numbers. My truck is rated to tow up to 9,100 lbs. If you follow the recommendations that your tongue weight should be 10 - 15% of your trailer weight, then the tongue weight of a 9,100 lb. trailer should be somewhere between 910 lbs. and 1,365 lbs. The maximum tongue weight for my truck is 700 lbs. with a weight carrying hitch and 1,250 lbs. with a weight distribution hitch. So if I actually tow a trailer that heavy, I’ll likely exceed my maximum hitch weight. They don’t tell you that in the marketing brochure.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:57 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
A 'dual use' vehicle is just that, and likely not to do either up to par.
I prefer using a vehicle that was designed for towing & travel and accept the minor suffering when not.
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Not a towing example, but I used to call on mining customers, often travelling several hundred km in a day to the mine sites, over forestry roads or similar. I used a long line of AWD SUVs, others used crew cab pickups. But whenever I had to take 6 people with me (a few times a year) I rented a 3/4 ton Suburban 4wd with three rows of seats. It worked very well for that duty. I just couldn't imagine driving it every day. YMMV, obviously.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:10 AM   #104
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So I contacted Curt. I questioned the use of this hitch with the Ascent and I was told that if the car manufacturer says not to use weight distribution then it should not be used. Curt tests the hitch independently of the car. So while the hitch is rated under j684 the Subaru is not. So the only endorsement I see for this set up is from you. A guy on the internet.

I accept that some unibody construction can handle weight distribution. Mine can and is not only recommended but required by the manufacturer in some situations. That doesnít mean all unibody constructed vehicles can handle the stress of weight distribution. Without proper testing itís just an assumption that the WDH issue is do to the factory hitch.

For the OP if he is still following. If you are going to follow the new hitch route please call the manufacturer of the hitch and talk it over.
Your story isn't consistent.

Curt advertises that the receiver hitch in question is specifically designed for the Ascent, and that it is rated for weight distribution.

I suspect you spoke to a marketing person, or someone in a call centre.

Here is the issue with system engineering. The party responsible for the integration takes the responsibility. They won't take responsibility for what they can't control. So, Subaru won't endorse WD equipment because they haven't tested it. They don't provide any reason why one shouldn't do it. You are speculating wildly, and guessing it is because of the strength of the body structure, but you haven't demonstrated any evidence of that. If that is what you are going with, you need to explain how that same body structure is supporting the weight that the vehicle is designed to carry. Curt won't make specific endorsements against Subaru, but they did design and market a hitch that does what a customer wants it to do. That is as good as it gets. The real issue isn't the strength of the unibody, it is the quality of the setup, and neither Subaru nor Curt control that. It is the person doing the setup, and ultimately the operator. You are out looking for endorsements where you won't find any.

A side note, but you sure are critical of "guys on the internet" considering you are one.

What the OP should do if they are concerned about using WD on this specific vehicle is call and get advice (for free) from the most knowledgeable poster in this thread on this topic, the one who has set up these specific vehicles, and has specific equipment recommendations. That would be CanAm.

It would be far more productive than listening to the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) expressed by some people online every time this comes up.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:12 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by Dennis C View Post
Itís amazing how much marketing plays into the numbers. My truck is rated to tow up to 9,100 lbs. If you follow the recommendations that your tongue weight should be 10 - 15% of your trailer weight, then the tongue weight of a 9,100 lb. trailer should be somewhere between 910 lbs. and 1,365 lbs. The maximum tongue weight for my truck is 700 lbs. with a weight carrying hitch and 1,250 lbs. with a weight distribution hitch. So if I actually tow a trailer that heavy, Iíll likely exceed my maximum hitch weight. They donít tell you that in the marketing brochure.
The towing recommendations are not based on Airstreams, or even on travel trailers. The towing test standard most follow doesn't use a travel trailer, so the rating is derived for a non-representative trailer, as far as Airstreams go.

There are a lot of boat trailers that work very well with 5% tongue weight due to the location of the significant masses on the trailer.

The biggest issue is how much focus is put on ratings, at the expense of the quality of the setup, IMO.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:41 AM   #106
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That makes sense.
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Old 04-08-2021, 11:53 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by jcl View Post
Your story isn't consistent.

Curt advertises that the receiver hitch in question is specifically designed for the Ascent, and that it is rated for weight distribution.

I suspect you spoke to a marketing person, or someone in a call centre.

Here is the issue with system engineering. The party responsible for the integration takes the responsibility. They won't take responsibility for what they can't control. So, Subaru won't endorse WD equipment because they haven't tested it. They don't provide any reason why one shouldn't do it. You are speculating wildly, and guessing it is because of the strength of the body structure, but you haven't demonstrated any evidence of that. If that is what you are going with, you need to explain how that same body structure is supporting the weight that the vehicle is designed to carry. Curt won't make specific endorsements against Subaru, but they did design and market a hitch that does what a customer wants it to do. That is as good as it gets. The real issue isn't the strength of the unibody, it is the quality of the setup, and neither Subaru nor Curt control that. It is the person doing the setup, and ultimately the operator. You are out looking for endorsements where you won't find any.

A side note, but you sure are critical of "guys on the internet" considering you are one.

What the OP should do if they are concerned about using WD on this specific vehicle is call and get advice (for free) from the most knowledgeable poster in this thread on this topic, the one who has set up these specific vehicles, and has specific equipment recommendations. That would be CanAm.

It would be far more productive than listening to the FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) expressed by some people online every time this comes up.
I stopped reading after you referred to my post as a ďstoryĒ.
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Old 04-09-2021, 06:56 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by Prettygood View Post
Exactly.

(And nobody has responded to the very suspicious fact that a large number of SUVs all have the same tow specs, despite different manufacturers, architectures, and equipment... undermines the argument to stay exactly where the published number is, because that published number is not based solely on engineering, but rather marketing and legal considerations)
Hi

Vehicles are designed to hit targets. Some of them are stated specs. Others are legal requirements. Many are set by research on customer expectations. In any case, they start of with a list of numbers.

At each step of the design they optimize each part so that it will hit this or that number. Since one *very* big requirement is "minimum weight", a part that is bigger than needed gets ruled out. Talk to one of the designers (any of them, on any sub-system) and they will confirm this.

Indeed there also is a need to deliver the vehicle at minimum cost. That keeps the design guys employed. It also tends to make you a bit happier when you sign that (large) check at purchase time.

A SUV goes into a category (unlike a big truck) that counts towards the "fleet MPG" numbers. Since that's a federal regulation, it gets some attention. Anything that lowers MPG is going to be designed out (if possible).

All of this drives these guys to focus very clearly on specific numbers. If marketing says 7200 lb of towing, that's what you design for. If your marketing is happy with the same number as the other guy's marketing, they both get the same spec.

One would *guess* that towing capacity is simply a "check box" for most SUV buyers. As long as your product is "as good as" the other guys, yours will sell fine in the market. The MPG requirement has pretty much wiped out the "giant SUV" end of the market.

Yes, that's the short version .....

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Old 04-09-2021, 10:27 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Vehicles are designed to hit targets. Some of them are stated specs. Others are legal requirements. Many are set by research on customer expectations. In any case, they start of with a list of numbers.

At each step of the design they optimize each part so that it will hit this or that number. Since one *very* big requirement is "minimum weight", a part that is bigger than needed gets ruled out. Talk to one of the designers (any of them, on any sub-system) and they will confirm this.

Indeed there also is a need to deliver the vehicle at minimum cost. That keeps the design guys employed. It also tends to make you a bit happier when you sign that (large) check at purchase time.

A SUV goes into a category (unlike a big truck) that counts towards the "fleet MPG" numbers. Since that's a federal regulation, it gets some attention. Anything that lowers MPG is going to be designed out (if possible).

All of this drives these guys to focus very clearly on specific numbers. If marketing says 7200 lb of towing, that's what you design for. If your marketing is happy with the same number as the other guy's marketing, they both get the same spec.

One would *guess* that towing capacity is simply a "check box" for most SUV buyers. As long as your product is "as good as" the other guys, yours will sell fine in the market. The MPG requirement has pretty much wiped out the "giant SUV" end of the market.

Yes, that's the short version .....

Bob


I agree to a point, especially in the past where each vehicle was on a unique platform. Today, shared architecture is the norm, so the subframes, engines, transmissions and other major components are often designed to work across a wide range of requirements and no longer a specific set of them.

The ďgood enoughĒ to meet a non-priority feature (such as towing for a family SUV) leads to a market definition (e.g. 5000 lbs) that checks the box but doesnít differentiate.

My point is this: all SUVs that have that rating meet that rating. The actual capability of the platform can exceed that rating based on the other inherent design features.

Structural rigidity and safety cage designs for example may create a unibody that has the strength to handle much more towing than published, but since towing isnít a differentiator for that model, the true max capacity isnít identified and marketed. (I worry more about my transmission being up to the task than my frame!)

To only consider published numbers is to ignore the reality and breadth of factors in this situation. Trucks market on towing and payload, family SUVs do not. Trust the numbers when the manufacturer is trying to squeeze out every last pound to help differentiate and sell the vehicle. Use the numbers as a guideline (e.g. respect them and donít grossly exceed, AND donít be afraid of them if you are a few pounds over) when it is a feature the manufacturer never focuses on or uses in marketing.
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:30 AM   #110
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I agree to a point, especially in the past where each vehicle was on a unique platform. Today, shared architecture is the norm, so the subframes, engines, transmissions and other major components are often designed to work across a wide range of requirements and no longer a specific set of them.

The ďgood enoughĒ to meet a non-priority feature (such as towing for a family SUV) leads to a market definition (e.g. 5000 lbs) that checks the box but doesnít differentiate.

My point is this: all SUVs that have that rating meet that rating. The actual capability of the platform can exceed that rating based on the other inherent design features.

Structural rigidity and safety cage designs for example may create a unibody that has the strength to handle much more towing than published, but since towing isnít a differentiator for that model, the true max capacity isnít identified and marketed. (I worry more about my transmission being up to the task than my frame!)

To only consider published numbers is to ignore the reality and breadth of factors in this situation. Trucks market on towing and payload, family SUVs do not. Trust the numbers when the manufacturer is trying to squeeze out every last pound to help differentiate and sell the vehicle. Use the numbers as a guideline (e.g. respect them and donít grossly exceed, AND donít be afraid of them if you are a few pounds over) when it is a feature the manufacturer never focuses on or uses in marketing.
Hi

If the platform has something on it that is not needed to hit the spec, that its is removed / modified / reduced. That's been the way it works for a long time. Weight quickly gets into MPG. MPG *is* something folks look at and make decisions based on. Does a pound here or there matter? Ask the guys who design this stuff .... they will tell you *lots* of stories about crazy efforts to drop a very small amount of weight in this or that sub-system.

While these vehicles share "a platform" that means less than you might think. Every model gets tweaked to hit it's unique targets. Finding an exact list of which pieces of sheet metal are a slightly different shape / size / thickness is not something you will be able to do without tearing the vehicle down into small bits and pieces. Without that information ( and then putting it all back into the proper simulation software ), you really can't second guess what they have done.

Bob
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:33 AM   #111
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Isn't it easier to 'buy' the payload along with the vehicle instead of trying to add and adjust after the fact?

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Old 04-10-2021, 08:22 AM   #112
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I think the OP purchased the Subaru only a few months ago and prior to having thoughts of towing a trailer. Now recently a friend, with an Airstream, has put that thought into his head. He went shopping and fell in love with a Airstream model that's arguably too much trailer for the Subaru. I imagine the financial hit of selling the Subaru is a big factor in his calculation to try to make everything work.

While its obviously best to get the tow vehicle after the trailer so these weight issues can be ideally matched, life isn't always so linear. What he's trying to do is what many of did, got the trailer then mated it to whatever tow vehicle we already owned. I did that with my 2003 Ford Expedition for a couple years. It wasn't a great match, close to max ratings of the vehicle, but worked okay most of the time.

The OP hasn't reported back in a while. I imagine he will get the trailer and struggle with the Subaru for a few years. Hopefully short trips.
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Old 04-10-2021, 09:30 AM   #113
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Hi

If the platform has something on it that is not needed to hit the spec, that its is removed / modified / reduced. That's been the way it works for a long time. Weight quickly gets into MPG. MPG *is* something folks look at and make decisions based on. Does a pound here or there matter? Ask the guys who design this stuff .... they will tell you *lots* of stories about crazy efforts to drop a very small amount of weight in this or that sub-system.

While these vehicles share "a platform" that means less than you might think. Every model gets tweaked to hit it's unique targets. Finding an exact list of which pieces of sheet metal are a slightly different shape / size / thickness is not something you will be able to do without tearing the vehicle down into small bits and pieces. Without that information ( and then putting it all back into the proper simulation software ), you really can't second guess what they have done.

Bob
When designing the Ridgeline, Honda added what is basically and inverted beam system to the unibody and put all sorts of connections between the box and bed to deal with box flex especially at the top. This is not the typical of unibody chassis. They did this to get the payload up to ~1,500 lbs. It seems that SUV's don't get payload determined the way trucks do. This may be a problem to work out what you can carry after adding the tongue weight and WDH weight, then 7 people and food, bikes, kayaks, clothes ice cubes, etc.... I think the first thing I would look at it the tires and even switch them out to LT tires

I do wonder about the 5,000 lbs towing max given that this vehicle is a bit of an anomaly. It seems that Honda could have done more to get this rating up to the competitors like Toyota, GM and Ford in the smaller truck segment.

Our ~4,000 lbs Airstream certainly is not stressing this unibody and the rest of the truck does well in all situations. ie: brakes, suspension, power.

I do feel that I could go bigger/heavier like a FC23FB with this truck but there is that little place in the back of my mind that tells me that I should look a the bigger picture and make sure that I can run within the specs.

I think that is the line that some of us wrestle with.

We also need our vehicles to work 99% of the time that we aren't towing anything (while avoiding another vehicle in the driveway just to tow) so there's that dilemma as well.

It is a shame that the OP was lead down the path to get their dream combo just to dig into the potential issues of their setup!
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Old 04-10-2021, 06:40 PM   #114
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Last week a person with a 3/4 ton live axles front and rear pickup came in for help with the handling of their trailer. A 30í tall gangly box trailer. It was half the weight of the tow rating. I test drove it and it was not great. I was explain to the owner what he needed to do to improve the handling, tires, shocks and hitch setup. He pointed to the 300 Chrysler connected to a 34 Airstream 7 or 8 times the 300ís tow rating and said ďIf I have to do all this how can that workĒ. I took him for a test drive and he was blown away he had no idea a trailer could tow like that.

All trailers of the same weight do not tow the same. Look at the properties of the vehicle, stance, centre of gravity, balance, suspension design etc.

https://rvlifemag.com/built-to-tow-or-marketed-to-tow/
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:04 PM   #115
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Isn't it easier to 'buy' the payload along with the vehicle instead of trying to add and adjust after the fact?

Bob
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With respect to purchasing a stronger receiver suitable for WD equipment, there is no proposal to increase the payload. It is a case of purchasing a suitable receiver hitch simply so that the OP can access the payload they already bought and paid for.

Or, they could go with a lower tongue weight percentage, and that may mean deciding to buy a 5000 lb boat and trailer instead of a 5000 lb travel trailer. Might be easier to just purchase the correct receiver hitch.
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:25 AM   #116
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Explain how a hitch changes or improves the vehicle payload. How is the OP's hitch rating mis-matched to the TV payload?

I also changed our hitch, nothing to do with payload though.
The poor design of the OEM just wouldn't move the weight needed with the lighter WD bars I wanted to use.

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Old 04-11-2021, 06:33 AM   #117
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Originally Posted by jcl View Post
With respect to purchasing a stronger receiver suitable for WD equipment, there is no proposal to increase the payload. It is a case of purchasing a suitable receiver hitch simply so that the OP can access the payload they already bought and paid for.

Or, they could go with a lower tongue weight percentage, and that may mean deciding to buy a 5000 lb boat and trailer instead of a 5000 lb travel trailer. Might be easier to just purchase the correct receiver hitch.
Or...One could just bolt the hitch to a F-350, ( or, even better yet, a F-450/550 ) dually,drop the little Airstream trailer on the ball, and it will follow the leader.
No ( "special hitch setup") ,needed.
Bigger is always better..
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:44 AM   #118
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Last week a person with a 3/4 ton live axles front and rear pickup came in for help with the handling of their trailer. A 30’ tall gangly box trailer. It was half the weight of the tow rating. I test drove it and it was not great. I was explain to the owner what he needed to do to improve the handling, tires, shocks and hitch setup. He pointed to the 300 Chrysler connected to a 34 Airstream 7 or 8 times the 300’s tow rating and said “If I have to do all this how can that work”. I took him for a test drive and he was blown away he had no idea a trailer could tow like that.

All trailers of the same weight do not tow the same. Look at the properties of the vehicle, stance, centre of gravity, balance, suspension design etc.

https://rvlifemag.com/built-to-tow-or-marketed-to-tow/
Isn't that wonderful.Why stop at 7-8 times a vehicles tow rating???
Why not double that, like14-16 times the tow rating, with a "Super Duper Extra Special " setup???
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Old 04-11-2021, 06:56 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by Andrew T View Post
Last week a person with a 3/4 ton live axles front and rear pickup came in for help with the handling of their trailer. A 30í tall gangly box trailer. It was half the weight of the tow rating. I test drove it and it was not great. I was explain to the owner what he needed to do to improve the handling, tires, shocks and hitch setup. He pointed to the 300 Chrysler connected to a 34 Airstream 7 or 8 times the 300ís tow rating and said ďIf I have to do all this how can that workĒ. I took him for a test drive and he was blown away he had no idea a trailer could tow like that.

All trailers of the same weight do not tow the same. Look at the properties of the vehicle, stance, centre of gravity, balance, suspension design etc.

https://rvlifemag.com/built-to-tow-or-marketed-to-tow/
Hi

Even *with* an Airstream, there can be issues. Our Classic is significantly more stable with a full fresh water tank than with the tank empty. Yes "make the trailer heavier to stabilize it" is a bit counter intuitive. In this case it's the lowering of the center of mass that does the trick. Big heavy AC unit on the roof at the back needs to be "balanced out" ....

Oddly enough, boats are ballasted to stay upright when in operation . This "weight low" situation works to your advantage when towing. People who are used to towing this or that weight boat often are surprised moving over to a SOB. The natural assumption *is* that "7,000 pounds is all you need to know ...".

Fun !!!

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Old 04-11-2021, 07:41 AM   #120
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Our Classic also has the FW tank mounted central & low, much more stable when it's full.

Our boat is about 1200lb with engine, weight biased low, and with a proper trailer axle placement, even so, I wouldn't tow it on a single axle trailer.

Bob
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