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Old 07-25-2015, 08:49 PM   #1
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Size of truck needed for 31' Airstream?

Hi guys,

First, I am a new member here. In about a year and a half, my wife and I will be pretty much selling everything and buying an Airstream. We're pretty much jumping into the whole full time RVing lifestyle head first.

We are looking at a 31' Excella (or something very similar). We will be bringing a motorcycle with us, probably in the bed of the truck. It'll weigh around 500 to 600 pounds.

I'm looking for some advice for the size of diesel truck that I will need.

Assuming that I'm not storing anything outrageous that would weigh down the rig, with the added weight of the motorcycle, I was thinking that an F-250-type of truck is what I need.

I have also heard to give yourself around a 10% buffer in the size of truck to allow for any anomalies along the way.

So, my question is simple (I think): Is a 250-size truck sufficient to pull a 31' Airstream with a motorcycle in the bed of the truck, or is a 350 a better vehicle with a little extra buffer for my application?

Thanks.

Steve.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:58 PM   #2
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What you need to find out is what year is the Excella, what is the trailer weight, and what is the tongue weight. There is a website that once you know the year and model will list these specs. I could even look it up with the year. As with other Aristreams earlier models are lighter later models are heavier. Exellas are heavier than other Airstreams as they use real wood.

You don't necessarily need a diesel. A v8 gasser would do it. A 150 may work but is cutting it closer.
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Old 07-25-2015, 09:55 PM   #3
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I'm fond of my 1999 Ford 3/4 ton F250 Super Duty diesel xtra cab short bed 4x4 with a shell. It doesn't know the 75 Overlander 27' is behind it, even with cross winds and no equalizer or anti sway hitch.

My suggestion - a similar tow vehicle (TV).
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumatic View Post
What you need to find out is what year is the Excella, what is the trailer weight, and what is the tongue weight. There is a website that once you know the year and model will list these specs. I could even look it up with the year. As with other Aristreams earlier models are lighter later models are heavier. Exellas are heavier than other Airstreams as they use real wood.

You don't necessarily need a diesel. A v8 gasser would do it. A 150 may work but is cutting it closer.
Thanks. Let's say an '98, which I believe has a GVWR of 8500 if I'm not mistaking.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:16 PM   #5
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I'm fond of my 1999 Ford 3/4 ton F250 Super Duty diesel xtra cab short bed 4x4 with a shell. It doesn't know the 75 Overlander 27' is behind it, even with cross winds and no equalizer or anti sway hitch.

My suggestion - a similar tow vehicle (TV).
Thanks, appreciate the feedback. I just don't want to go too light with the truck and risk having towing problems out on the road. I'm hoping that a 250 will be all that I need.
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Old 07-25-2015, 10:29 PM   #6
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If I were doing that, I would look at an F250 first. Check the GVWR of the truck, see if you'd be pushing the limits when you have the bike in the bed of the truck, considering all of the other "stuff" you'd bring along for the trip. If you would be getting close, look at an F350.

Gas or diesel is your choice. I like the diesel's performance best.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:19 AM   #7
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Gas or diesel is your choice. I like the diesel's performance best.
Yep, I'm definitely looking for a diesel.

Doing a little more research, the GVWR of a 1998 31' Excella is 8300, plus another 1245 pounds for the tongue weight, add in the the motorcycle and other carbo in the bed and I'm flirting with the 11,000 pound mark that the vehicle would be towing.

This is increasingly making me believe that I will need to step up to a 350/3500 diesel.
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Old 07-26-2015, 10:45 AM   #8
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I pull a 94 Excella with a 99 GMC 2500 6.0L gasser. I am easily over 10,000lbs with all my gear going down the road. My truck does it, but you know the TT is back there for sure.

If I were to do it over... I would definitely have a diesel... and in your case, especially with the motorcycle in the bed... I would definitely go with the 350/3500...
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:00 AM   #9
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Tongue weight of my 2014 Classic is now down to 1,200 pounds. I have a Dodge 2500HD with Cummins diesel. We are around 10,000 pounds truck weight when towing.

For us, a motorcycle in the back of the truck would require a Dodge 3500HD and probably one with dual rear wheels for stability.
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:20 AM   #10
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sdnet01 -
Only a little ahead of you in progress; however, we have done a LOT of research on the forums and elsewhere; have ordered a Classic; a bit heavier than your AS, but not carrying a motorcycle in the bed. Any of the Big Three (counting Chevy and GMC as one) 3/4 or 1 ton will do for your needs. All have plenty of power. We chose the F250 diesel because for us, it just blew the others away in raw pulling power and met some specific other needs. Ours will have the short (6'6") bed.

Because you plan to put a motorcycle in the bed, I would recommend you get a 1 ton and get the long (8') bed. They do ride rougher, but all are engineered well enough now that if you get a late model or new, the ride will be fine. We drove a '15 F350 long bed; very nice truck, was a rougher ride than the F250, but again, not bad. One of our criteria was that it must fit in our garage; with 256" to work with the long bed was not an option. Did not feel it was overly difficult to handle around town, but I drove trucks on the ranch and in college; we also have a diesel pusher MH in our history, so I might not be a good measure.

Good luck in your search; we are so happy ours is over!
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:06 PM   #11
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Dear Steve,
I have pulled a 1993 Excella AS with a 1998 Dodge 2500 Diesel truck for the past 17 years going to all of the International conventions since then and have not had any difficulty in pulling that trailer through all types of terrain including mountains. Any 2500 rated diesel would do well for you, be it Chevy, Ram or Ford. Good luck and good travels.
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:48 PM   #12
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Motorcycle in bed and diesel you will need a 350/3500. Those engines are heavy. At least with a ford f250 you are looking at 1900# payload modestly equipped on a 250. Not enough for you.
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:58 PM   #13
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Truck size

I don't recommend getting a truck too light for the job ...I have a Cummins Diesel and it pulls the 30 foot classic up the mountains without any dificulty and being a 3/4 ton the brakes are heavier than in a half ton ..I would perfer a 1 ton (more braking ) Be sure to get one that has a comfortable front seat.
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PS I have an exhaust brake that really helps and a transmission that helps going down the mountains
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:53 PM   #14
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Too much is always adequate. Too little is never enough.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:04 PM   #15
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There is no substitute for cubic inches.....
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:39 PM   #16
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There is no substitute for cubic inches.....

Well, I chose torque over CID myself. Been spark plug free for 10 years. Lots of gassers have bigger displacement.

Make mine a Cummins please.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:59 PM   #17
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Let me begin by saying my wife and I have lived the life you are contemplating. We sold everything and became full-timers in our 1980 Airstream 31'. For six years we traveled the country and loved every minute of it. For the first three years our tow vehicle was a Durango 5.7 gasser. It did a fine job except it would slow to 40 mph climbing the Rockies. The last three years of our adventure we had a GMC 2500 Sierra 6.0 gasser. This rig went over the Rockies without slowing at all. With a factory trailer package you won't have any trouble with hitch weight or pulling power. Just keep those rear tires fully inflated. BTW, we have now settled down and are selling our 31' Airstream. Good Luck and Happy Trails........
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Old 07-26-2015, 03:56 PM   #18
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I pull a 36' Avion that grosses at 9600lbs and the wife probably loads it to 11,000lbs, and I put my bike in the bed as well. Have never had any issues of under performance of any kind; have never hit a mountain I couldn't accelerate up, including the Great Smokies and all the ones in WV. I use a Dodge 2500 long bed with the Cummins. My old 04 1/2 is rated for 13,200 lbs trailer weight....couldn't tell you what the bed capacity is off hand but I thought it was like 3000lbs (the whole 3/4 - 1 ton thing is misleading as they seem to rate them higher than that in reality).

Truth is, none of these silver trailers are much of a load for a modern turbo diesel truck. A 43' fifth wheel that weighs 18,000lbs, yes. If you had a 1-ton dually diesel from the big three, you could just about hook two of any model Airstream up back to back to make a train and pull them.

I bought my truck before I got a trailer, and wanted something big enough to pull whatever I decided to get. I "almost" got a 1-ton dually, but decided not to because (1) for the 99.9% of the time (which is really more like 60% of the time) that I'm not towing, I'm hauling around two extra wheels and tires and that's just more expense and (2) they only came with a 4.10 axle ratio (I only wanted a Dodge) and that's pretty steep for highway cruising. I maybe should have gotten a 3500 Single Rear Wheel. But, I got a deal on a 2500 HD, and it's had enough zoot to do anything I want to do. Plus, if you read "Diesel Power" magazine, the trucks are only a starting point if you want to get crazy with them.

We went to Maine two years ago, and the guy beside me had a 42' 5er that he said weighed 18,000lbs. He had an F-350 that he'd hot rodded. It had a "Nitrous Works" license plate bracket. He said he was pushing 600hp and 800 ft-lbs of torque, and that was dialed way back as he was making more like 1200 ft-lbs of torque with the hotter tune and blew up two transmissions. Said the thing was bullet proof now and he cruised at 80mph. It was quite a truck. Diesels are strong.

I've left mine stock, other than an aftermarket transmission pan so I can change the fluid without getting a bath, and it's much stronger and reinforces the tranny (Dodge's are notorious for blowing the tranny due to case flex when you start upping the hp....)

At any rate, I think you are on the right track with your original assessment.

See ya on the road,
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:02 PM   #19
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Cruises at 80??? How fast you can make it stop is way more important than how fast you can make it go. 80 is insane.
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Old 07-26-2015, 04:15 PM   #20
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Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I definitely have a much better idea about what I'll need for this application. A 250/2500 would probably work, but the 350/3500, especially with the motorcycle in the bed, would be a much safer solution for us.

I will be targeting a 350/3500 long bed diesel truck when the time comes to make this purchase, probably around a year from now.
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