LX570 Tow Report

Discussion in '200-Series Cruisers' started by TeCKis300, Aug 12, 2017.

  1. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    Got some miles under my belt now towing my current setup: '09 LX570 with '07 Airstream 27FB International Ocean Breeze. Wanted to give a report for others attempting to tow things in the same weight/length range.

    LX570 mods: 33" AT Load Range E tires (Falken Wildpeak AT3W 305/55/20), 1" spacers all around, Dometic Milenco Grand Aero3 tow mirrors.
    *Normally, I do 36 psi all around on these tires, but 42psi rear 41 psi front when loaded.

    Pertinent numbers for the Airstream 27FB: 28' length (ball to bumper), 5813 dry weight, 790 hitch weight, 7600 GVWR.
    Mods 3" lift axle lift.
    *Note, these are dry unladen weights with no accessories or gear. It is well known in the AS community that Airstreams specs are very much on the light end. While I don't have actual weights (yet), those who have, generally report tongue weight in excess of 1000lbs, and trailer weight about 10-20% more.

    Hitch: Equalizer with 1000lb bars.
    Brake Controller: Tekonsha P3

    Happy to report that she tows splendidly. No tail wagging or any hint of instability.

    The pair is well matched in mass, as the LX570 is reported to have a curb weight of ~6150lbs. Weight is generally a major factor in stability. While trucks can be heavy too, they tend to be light in the rear where it counts (unless they have gear/ballast).

    Next is wheelbase, or more specifically wheelbase to rear overhang ratio. This was a concern as LC/LX's have wheel bases on the shorter end (~112"). With not exactly a short overhang (~56"). This 2:1 ratio is not ideal, but I believe the heft and wide track do lend some added stability to make up for things. Where this is a huge advantage is maneuvering and backing up in tight campgrounds.

    AHC works splendidly to control ride and secondary trailer motions. At no point does it feel under-damped or undersprung. I tried comfort mode on the manual damping dial for kicks and it allows for more motion, but I much prefer it in normal damping mode. Ride and trailer motions are quickly quelled. And ride quality is splended considering the load along and 42 PSI in Load E tires. Obviously no sag with AHC, but the nose at the front end will ride high without proper WD tension.

    I use an Equilizer hitch with 5 washers for tilt/tension. This seems to balance things well to put weight back on the front axle. A good WD/sway hitch is key to a successful setup and the Equilizer works well.

    The receiver on the LX570 is quite high, especially considering that the suspension never compresses or droops with load. Along with it being modestly lifted (1" via tires). So the standard drop shank puts the nose of the A/S high by ~3". I decided to lift the Airstream rather than use an extended drop shank, since A/S's tend to be on the low end and will commonly drag the tail AND hitch when entering driveways like at gas stations. So my A/S has been lifted 3" and sits nice and level now.

    AHC is awesome in all sorts of ways. Besides the obvious ride quality and leveling abilities. It's useful when hitching up to get the ball under the trailer, or releasing. It's also great to relieve the tension on the weight distribution bars, without completely relying on the tongue jack to lift the heavy combination. Also useful to level things at the campground.

    One very interesting aspect of AHC is that it slightly lowers ride height at speed on the freeway. This actually works great in concert with the weight distribution bars to dynamically increase WD tension for stability at higher speeds. I can set WD with less static tension. Around town, this allows for the combination to have a bit more flexibility between the tow vehicle and trailer, to traverse uneven terrain, especially with the stiffer Equilizer hitch bars.

    Requisite pictures:
    airstream1.jpg
    airstream2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2017
  2. Sandroad

    Sandroad SILVER Star

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    Good move on lifting the AS. Solves a common problem when towing campers of all models with the high hitches of the LC/LX. I may do that too, with my Camplite.
     
  3. Dan Higgins

    Dan Higgins

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    Great setup and great write up. Thanks! Your trailer is a bit heavier than mine (thought hitch weight is similar). This is encouraging to me that I will be able to get it dialed in. I don't have AHC of course and I know how it can be handy (had it on my LR4 and it was a big help when hooking up). I don't have an Airstream but I do have a Lance and they are similarly low slung. I may look to having it lifted in the future as I'll be having my LC lifted a couple of inches. My ProPride hitch had an adjustable height hitch bar but at some point it seems to make sense to lift the trailer.

    Thanks again for the writeup!
     
  4. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    I had done a fair bit of research on the ProPride, on account of our shorter wheelbase. So far I haven't had any stability concerns, but I've yet to experience really high winds. Lots of steep climbs and descents, with some mixed curvy roads, but only good weather travels so far.

    I have the Prodigy brake controller generally on some sort of boost, which let's the trailer brakes lead the tow vehicle, such that hitch is always in tension.

    Let us know how your PP works out over time. If there's any concerns at all about stability related to wheelbase to rear overhang ratio, that hitch is definitely the ticket!
     
  5. Dan Higgins

    Dan Higgins

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    Will do. I have had to fiddle with the ProPride a fair bit to get a decent fit on my Lance Trailer. (Still a bit more fiddling to do.) What I can say is that it does a great job with sway! Its the WD part that I haven't sorted yet. I don't have AHS like you and with nearly 800# of hitch weight I'm sagging a fair bit. I think I tried too hard to use the WD bars to bring the LC back to level. I am going to try and back that down on our next trip. And I also plan to strengthen the LC suspension which should help. I may go to airbags if necessary.

    I run my Prodigy as you do. That is especially useful with the ProPride/Hensley type hitches given their geometry. But you probably already know this as there is a lot of stuff on the AS forums about these.

    Thanks again for the report.
     
  6. LCHardriver_02

    LCHardriver_02 SILVER Star

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    Similar to Dan, I'm running a 26' Lance trailer with my LX. It has a dry weight of ~4400lbs, but in reality, it's closer to ~5500lbs loaded.

    I have the Equalizer antisway/load distribution hitch too and it seems to do just fine. My bars can be a bit hard to get on or off, depending upon whether or not I forget to either turn the AHC off, or leave my door open so it does not adjust while I'm trying to get things hitched/unhitched.

    I typically run in "Sport" mode on the AHC to quell any further movement when towing. This is especially true in the mountains here in Idaho, where the roads can be narrow and winding. I've had big rigs go by me at speed with little to no side to side movement, which is something you typically feel when that big cushion of air hits you.

    Dan - I installed airbags on my 100 series. I'd suggest you look into those. I had heavy weight OME coils, which were GREAT when towing this trailer, but SUCKED when NOT towing. I ended up moving to the medium coils and airbags, which gave me a greater amount of control when towing this same trailer, but allowed it to "soften" up when not. It was a fairly easy install. I would expect the 200 would be similar.

    Great write up!

    Jonathan
     
  7. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    I enjoy reading others experiences as well. More data points to help with the 'recipe' to successful tows. I personally didn't find too many reports to go on. At least one was actually not very confidence inspiring. Though as true for any tow setup, dialing it in is key, as even a Ford pickup can have serious and dangerous sway issues when not configured right.

    I do like the idea of the virtual pivot point (VPP) projection hitches that Dan is running, as I do believe it's the end all for utmost stability. It does come at a significant cost so value is up to the individual.

    Dan, when hitched up, how does the front fender height change relative to when not hitched up?

    Jonathan, glad to hear you're having success with the Equilizer too. There are camps that don't like it for the fact that the WD bars are very very stiff and don't give much. I believe it's part of its success. That said, I am conscious of it and will take the bars off the pads when entering/exiting very steep driveways or getting into irregular surface campgrounds. I think the LC/LX suspension, since it articulates well, takes some of the strain off of the hitch/tongue parts, rather than like a F350 that won't budged on account of anything. In regards to ease of getting the WD bars on/off, I will put AHC in high and jack the tongue of the trailer a bit more. Then it's a pretty easy operation with the tension mostly released.

    I've seen some trailer pics on other threads, but would love to see them in this thread too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  8. Dan Higgins

    Dan Higgins

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    Good question on the front fender. I think my front fender is about a half inch high when I have the WD pressure applied. But I'll need to check that again as I have changed the angle on my hitch bar which should make the WD bars (1,000#) a bit more effective. But I haven't had a chance to test it yet.

    As for air bags, I will definitely consider that. Somewhat envious of you all with your AHC as I had that in my Land Rover. But first I'll upgrade the suspension with springs. I'm going with the OME 2721 variable rate springs so they will operate more like stock when unloaded but will get stiffer as more load is applied. At least that is the theory. Supposed to be better for those who don't have a constant load on the rear (like a steel bumper.) We'll see how that works then decide on the airbags.

    IMG_1012.jpg
     
  9. GordJ

    GordJ

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    Bullet proof towing. AHC is the bomb.

    30423520_Unknown.jpg
     
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  10. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    Dan, loving the LC/Lance combo! The white on white, A/T tires, rack, just awesome.

    The 2185 was on my short list of considerations. If I were spending more serious time on the road with the full family, that would be it as it has more storage and functional space. Sounds like you're going the right direction with the tweaks and mods. Generally want to restore weight at the front axle with the fender just higher than what it was unhitched.

    Gordj, that's a legit picture. Getting down and doing what we all dream of. Hope I can make time with the family at some point in the future, and fully get away to really recharge.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
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  11. Malleus

    Malleus

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    How long (miles/years) have you been towing with your LX? I have a tandem axle trailer that I towed pretty much weekly for about six months, with about the max load on it. The truck had about 60-70K on it at the time. 40K mostly highway/long commute miles later, I have a sneaking suspicion that the left rear wheel bearing is going. I haven't heard anyone here address this, and as a matter of fact, when I mentioned it last year, the only response I received was along the lines of "never heard that one...".
     
  12. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    This setup is new to me and I've only towed her a few times. So I can't personally vouch for any long term durability. At the same time, I'm not in the least worried because I bought a 200-series for its overbuilt nature. Lots of the armored (balistic or offroad oriented) guys are waaay above GVWR, and much more heavy than us here towing. And they knowingly abuse their setups. So I believe the axle, bearings, and running gear to be robust.

    Like any machine, parts can wear or unexpectedly need service. I would check out the bearing earlier than later. What could be a cheap fix, could turn into more.
     
  13. tabraha

    tabraha Hello My Name is: TAD SILVER Star

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    We need a thread/details about this trip! Alaska/BC/YT is high on my list for next summer and I'm debating on which combo to do it in. LC/Expo Trailer or Denali HD/5th wheel right now.
     
  14. tabraha

    tabraha Hello My Name is: TAD SILVER Star

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    The airstream is such a nice looking match to the LX; a natural pairing.
     
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  15. Dan Higgins

    Dan Higgins

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    What he said!
     
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  16. tbisaacs

    tbisaacs

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    I was looking at 17-19’ travel trailers this weekend and wondering if it would be too big for my LX.

    Guess not :) 27’ is serious hardware!
     
  17. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    I've since gotten a LOT more miles on my belt with this combination. I continue to be fully satisfied. The 200-series as a tow vehicle is as legit as anything. While diesel dually has distinct advantages for even heavier loads, the Land Cruiser has its own bag of tricks.

    One of the great advantages of the LC lies in its incredible maneuverability. The liability of the short wheelbase to stability never was an issue for me. Yet with the maneuverability advantage, I've been able to squeeze into spots where no TT prior has been able to. One campground site in particular was badly setup with curb angles and trees. Recently a ranger stopped by the following morning asking how the heck I got in a specific site, as no one has ever made it in. It was a mix-up of the reservation clerk off-site, assigning me an on paper RV spot, that the local rangers know couldn't work due to a recent access road remodel. The ranger himself was a big rig driver and has watched countless other pickup drivers try to get into the spot without success. It was certainly tight and took a few tries, but I got in there just fine.

    Another boon is the full time 4WD and low range. I didn't know this until recently but most pickups do not have full time 4WD capability. 4WD is relegated to only low speed low traction situations as they don't have a center diff. So situations like boondocking on grass in rain and grade will cause these trucks to slip until they switch to 4WD. Which binds with steep turns. Then there's low range which most trucks don't have. I love nothing more than using low range for its high torque controlled maneuvering into an uneven campsite. To get onto leveling blocks or over uneven terrain which sometimes results in herky jerky lurches when in normal range.

    A bit more on stability, I was recently on a trip where there were really strong Santa Ana winds. Reported gusts were in the 40+, up to 50mph. Add to this, that I was traveling through very hilly terrain. Tops of hills were shielded by the cut in the hill, but once cresting the tops would show open sides where the winds get channeled. The winds were definitely strong enough that even solo cars were moving around. Yes, the rig was moving around, winds were pretty extreme. But to the 200-series credit, it never felt out of control. There were many rigs towing coming in from the desert, all were moving around, and many going slower than 40mph.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  18. TeCKis300

    TeCKis300

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    Posted this in another thread, but would be appropriate to capture here. In regards to handling loads over GVWR and heavy tongue weights:

     
  19. vapilotda

    vapilotda

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    @TeCKis300 Thanks a ton for posting this information. I've been feeding my wife the Airstream koolaid for a few years now and we are getting close. I've rented a little 19' to cut my teeth on for an April trip but have been going back and forth between a 25 and the 27 for purchase. Side note: This year has a 26 model that has a different floor plan that we really like. Nevertheless, you have given me confidence to lean toward the 27FB. Please keep up the report!
     
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  20. GordJ

    GordJ

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    I would never give up my slideout. It makes our 25’er very comfortable even though the famed Airstream quality isn’t there. The extra floor space adds a lot of light and a sense of spaciousness.
     
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