Do you tow an Airstream?

Discussion in '200-Series Cruisers' started by mark71, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. mark71

    mark71

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    I am thinking about getting an Airstream but have only towed with a Tundra. Since the cruiser has a shorter wheelbase, I was curious if anyone here tows an Airstream, which one you have, and what your general driving impressions are.
     
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  2. Haggis

    Haggis SILVER Star

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    ^^^ The wife and I would like a 23ft Airstream. A few years back we met a nice couple in a 2008 LC towing a 25ft International. They claimed it was a non issue. I think he had to have some rear air bags installed. That's the biggest one I have ever seen towed with the 200, actually the only one I have ever seen. A spendy combo!
     
  3. vapilotda

    vapilotda

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    I'd love to get more input on this as well. I've been looking at them and don't really want to pull with the cruiser as I'm not sure it's prudent but I don't want to buy a truck either. 25 or 27FB is what we are considering.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
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  4. Romer

    Romer fatherofdaughterofromer Moderator

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    My Kimberley Karavan has a traveling length of about 18 feet and weighs about 4000 lbs. I towed it with my 100 and didnt have any issues with handling. It tracks well. I was concerned about power going up a steep mtn pass (Vail Pass heading east). I didnt really need the upgrade to a 200, but it was a good excuse. I think part of why it tracks so wheel is the tire spacing is like the truck. I'll be towing over the mountains to Moab and back in a few weeks. That is the closest I have to a comparison
     
  5. 5ForFighting

    5ForFighting

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    I towed a 27' Nash from Southern California to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier last summer. Close to 5000 miles. Dry weight is around 4500 lbs, flipped axles, and we had enough gear for a family of 5. No issues towing other than atrocious fuel economy. I imagine an Airstream would be a smoother tow. I did have the pedal all the way down on the pass going over to Jackson Hole (forget what it's called). We were down to about 10-15 mph as we crested.
     
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  6. 5ForFighting

    5ForFighting

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  7. txtortoise

    txtortoise SILVER Star

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    Mark, I pull a relatively light weight also, i.e., 17' Casita, at 3000-3500lbs. Never an issue with my 100 or 200, other than the 100 struggled in the hills of Arizona (45mph). The 200 is a tremendous improvement in the Texas Hill Country, but we'll see how it does going back to Expo and north this year. Expect I won't hold up as much traffic.

    That said, my friends are in the same position you are, as they want an Airstream, but I think with a dry weight of an Airstream 27' at 6000lbs, you will feel it in the mountains. Handling should be fine, with a weight-distributing hitch at the most. Just guessing living with the 'limited' power pulling 6500lb+ will try your patience. That's why they're looking at a diesel. ;-(

    Might see if you can find someone that would just let you tow their's a bit one day. Easy test.
     
  8. sigmundsauer

    sigmundsauer

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    Mark,

    We tow an Airstream 23FB with both our 2008 and 2013 TLCs. The 23FB is our "ideal" Airstream and it weighs 5,000# dry and about 6,000# wet and loaded. We have had no problems towing it with either Cruiser even up thru the Rockies. I recommend towing with either your ECT switch on or in manual shift mode to lock out 6th gear as 5th gear is adequate to pull at highway speeds. We generally average between 9-11 MPG at 65-70 MPH, depending on conditions.

    We love our Airstream but have debated on whether it meets our needs for an adventurous lifestyle as it's more difficult to take off-road without damaging things.

    Also, we use a sway control hitch, which works beautifully on the highway - highly recommended.

    The biggest difference between the 2008 and 2013 is the suspension. We've noticed that the 2013 has a more leveled suspension versus the rear-to-forward downward rake of the 2008. The 2008 will carry the Airstream about level when hitched up, but the 2013 will sag its tail considerably more. I've debated either Firestone airbags or new, heavier springs but want to retain stock ride quality because it is my wife's daily driver. I question Toyota's payload ratings with such a saggy rear-end.

    Tim
     
  9. linuxgod

    linuxgod

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    An Airstream should tow just fine, provided you have the right setup. You'll want a decent weight distribution hitch and anti-sway bar, and if you have the stock suspension you'll most likely want a set of helper airbags. The LC max towing weight is somewhere between 8100 and 8500# (I've seen different numbers from different sources), so ideally keep your gross trailer weight under 6500# and the total length under ~26' and you'll be OK. On the plus side the Airstream design is particularly aerodynamic, which might help a little bit on the highway MPG.

    My experience: I have a 24' Forest River ('05 Surveyor 235RS), which was 5030# and about 620# tongue weight when I finally put it on a scale last year (a far cry from the 3700# dry and 360# tongue weight that Forest River advertised). I was pulling that with an '08 Acura MDX, which had 300hp/270lb-ft torque @5600rpm, a max towing capacity of 5000# and 500# tongue, and a 108" wheelbase. A lot of sag in the rear, even with the weight distributing hitch, but it towed ok on the highway at 65-70mph with the anti-swap cranked down 3.5-4 turns. Passing (or getting passed by) 18 wheelers was a little squirrely though (the aerodynamics tugging the trailer during a pass are kind of like my toddler tugging on my shirt tail while walking).

    I'm going to pull my trailer out in a few weeks to have the RV shop inspect it and repack the bearings. I'll update with my experience towing it then as well, but the LC has a towing capacity of ~8200#, 850# hitch capacity, and 112" wheelbase, so I fully expect it to tow like a dream by comparison.

    (As an aside, I didn't use helper airbags in the Acura because it had independent rear suspension so additional weight added positive camber which helped stability, but since the LC is a solid rear axle having them can do nothing but help).
     
  10. mark71

    mark71

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    It is sounding more and more like the 23 is our best bet. Being 6'4", this was not the conclusion I was hoping for (the 25 and up are taller), but such is life.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to post their feedback.
     
  11. linuxgod

    linuxgod

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    You could probably do the 25 if you're very careful about keeping your weight under the gross trailer weight rating (i.e. dump your tanks right away and don't carry water more than you need to).

    The rule of thumb is to not tow more than 80% of the max tow rating, though I (and many others) have exceeded that (foolishly perhaps). I wouldn't run more than 6500# in the mountains but if you're in a flat part of the country maybe 7000# won't be an issue. The tricky part is you really want at least 10-12% of your trailer weight on the tongue, so a 7000# trailer means 700-850# on the tongue which is right at the LC limit. WD helps but not as much in my experience as you'd expect.

    Personally as much as I love the look of an Airstream I'm extremely happy with an ultralight travel trailer. If you're not dead set on Airstream I highly recommend you look at Forest River, Jayco, etc. Because they are laminate and fiberglass instead of steel they often weigh 1000# less (or more!) You'll be surprised how quickly you start reaching the 1200# carrying capacity of the LC one you put a bunch of people and gear in it and then add the hitch weight. My Surveyor is 24' from hitch to bumper (20' enclosed), sleeps 10 (or 8 very comfortably), weighs 5200# when loaded with gear, bikes, propane, water, etc. It probably won't last 30 years like an Airstream (though it is going on 12) but it was also ~1/4th the cost new. Unfortunately old trailers don't appreciate like old LCs
     
  12. sigmundsauer

    sigmundsauer

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    My wife and I considered many trailer options before purchasing the Airstream. In the end, we went with the Airstream because it was the only ultralite trailer that truly was durable. Just about any other ultralite trailer on the market that competes weight-wise with the Airstream is of far more flimsy construction and will simply deteriorate or otherwise self-destruct over the years as the joints work loose. This is why there are so many in landfills and such poor retained value. Despite the higher purchase price, the Airstreams hold their value magnificently and is why we opted for it. The only ultralite that I'd otherwise consider as a viable option that is known for durability and good retained value are the Casitas, but they are single axle and quite small.

    Just our thoughts.

    Tim
     
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  13. linuxgod

    linuxgod

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  14. vapilotda

    vapilotda

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    Thank you all for the info and justification for the 3/4 ton Cummins purchase! Ha I'm certain anything less than a 25 will be too small for our family and I'm guessing the landcruiser will pull it but would rather not over tax it as it's my wife's daily driver and id like to have it for a long time. It's easy enough to justify the truck purchase!
     
  15. sigmundsauer

    sigmundsauer

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    I certainly would not talk anyone out of buying a truck if that's what they want, but I did the exact opposite -- traded in my 3/4 ton truck for a 200 TLC, precisely because the Cruiser could tow our Airstream competently. A 25' Airstream will hardly overtax the 200. That powertrain is strong. If you're talking a 28'-30' it may be a different story.

    Tim
     
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  16. Markuson

    Markuson SILVER Star

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    For me, I'd be sad to go Airstream camping/traveling and have to leave the 200 at home... Seems like you give up some fun wheeling opportunities while the trailer is parked if you commit to a size that requires a monster pickup with no Cruiser along for the trip.

    Could you re-gear your 200 to 4.88 & maybe swap in Tundra brakes... and skip the truck? You could certainly do some absolutely killer mods to your 200 for a fraction of that truck money... I dunno... Just thinkin... ;)
     
  17. sigmundsauer

    sigmundsauer

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    With this weight class of trailers, I think a gear swap is unnecessary unless your spinning bigger, heavier tires at the same time.

    The beauty of the 200 power train is that you have two overdrives. If you don't have enough power just drop a gear...no need for new gears. I tow predominantly in 5th gear on the highway. It's adequate and easy on both fuel and the engine. 6th gear is at such low RPMs its hardly creating heat or wear. I choose 5th just to ease shifting stress on the tranny.

    Tim
     
  18. Rigger

    Rigger Ramble Tamble Staff Member Moderator

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    I think you refer to Teton Pass?
     
  19. imerp

    imerp

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    I had a 2005 safari airstream rear bed
    Towed well.
    Watch the tongue weight
    Some 23 ft are same tongue wt as 25 ft. The main difference in the 25 ft is between the front and rear bedroom models
    The front bed models have the waste tanks nearer the front and tend to put more weight on the tongue
    I think my safari rear bed had a tongue wt between 650 and 750 lb depending on how full the waste /water tanks were
    Plenty of power but you need good WD hitch and anti sway.
     
  20. imerp

    imerp

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    I had my 200 with a scan gauge installed when towing the airstream
    You have to use the gears. Transmission temps can quickly get over 250 deg F.
    When gears are used, the temp quickly drops to 190-220 deg even when going uphill.
     
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