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Towing an Airstream

Home > Discussion Forum > RV - Airstream

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Towing an Airstream Dave Clark 10-17-06  
It's always possible to just look at the numbers for how powerful a truck one needs to tow a 24 or 27 foot Airstream, but I'd like some feedback from this group. 11K pounds or so for a trailer requires a really big truck.

Does anyone have any comments or insight on this issue?

Thanks.

Dave
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Re: Towing an Airstream Wendell Knight 12-4-07  
I tow a 25ft international with a Nissan Armada which is rated at 9100#. I've towed with a 1/2 and 3/4 ton trucks
and feel nearly as safe with SUV. Wife is a lot happier when going to the store in the SUV. Gross weight of trailer should never exceed the tow rating of vehicle.
Re: Towing an Airstream Bill Shotts 8-27-07  
I have towed a 31' Airstream with a 1/2 ton van, a 1/2 pickup (standard cab w/8' bed), a 3/4 ton HD (super cab w/8' bed), a 1 ton (crew cab w/8' bed) and a 1 ton DRW(crew cab w38' bed) over the years. All of these were gas except for the last two. As far as I'm concerned the longer the wheel base and sturder the vehicle became the better it pulled and handled the trailer. I pulled on flat land and in the mountains without any trouble with the bigger trucks. When towing with the longer wheel base trucks the trailer tracks better and it is actually easier to manuever around in tight places. I say the bigger and stronger the better.
Re: Towing an Airstream Albert 10-31-06  
I'm happy to give you my 2 cents worth.

The GVWR of a 24 to 27 foot Airstream would be in the range of 5800 to 7300 lbs, depending on the year. The truck might weigh 6,000 loaded, for a total of 13,300.

You need to calculate "torque to the pavement" to figure out how steep a hill the truck can climb. Multiply engine torque (pounds feet) by the 1st gear ratio by the final drive ("rear end") ratio and divide by the tire radius (in feet). An example: 335 ft lbs x 2.9 (1st gear) x 3.73 divided by 1.25 feet = 2,899 ft lbs x 0.8 (to account for friction losses in the drivetrain) The net amount is about 2,300 ft lbs. This would pull the 13,300 lbs up a 17% grade (13,300 x.17), at sea level. You can do this for each gear if you want. In my experience, this kind of calculation provides a good indication of real capability. The ability to climb an 11 or 12% grade in 2nd gear might be a good indicator of real world hill climbing capability for most people. This should get you up the 7% grades and over mountain passes at 10,000 feet without downshifting to 1st (29% power loss at this elevation.)

A heavier 3/4 ton truck with a similar-sized engine won't do any better than a 1/2 ton unless you get a big gas engine or a diesel. It's these big engines that will also allow you to climb mountains without slowing down. It really a matter of expectations, and how much you have to spend.

Towing on level ground is simply a matter of hp vs. wind resistance. Any V8 should move an Airstream past 80 mph quite easily.

Towing stability is another matter. Many will suggest a 3/4 ton truck, but a half-ton with a precisely set up weight distributing hitch can be made to tow very well. Things to examine are center of gravity (lower is better), rear overhang (distance from rear axle to the ball) relative to wheelbase, suspension design (independent is best), and roll stiffness of the tires. Very wide and tall tires (like many SUV tires) are usually not as stable. LT tires are often used as replacements. And remember that Airstreams are relatively low, well-balanced, good riding and stable trailers.
Re: Towing an Airstream don Bittle 12-19-07  
When the new chevy half tons came out in 07, my dealer told me that it, with the 350 would easily handle my 26' and get much better mileage than my 6.0 3/4 ton.
don
Re: Towing an Airstream Dan Chu 2-4-10  
I am looking at a 25 ft International or Safari and am thinking of buying a Toyata Tundra 4.8 liter double cab, and am wondering if that'll be powerful enough, or if I need to get the bigger 5.7 liter?

Dan Chu
Re: Towing an Airstream Bambi Robert Gordon 8-27-11  
What size of a truck will handle a 19 Flying Cloud Bambi. Will the new Ford Echostar F150 do the job well?
Re: Towing an Airstream Tami Sanders 1-19-11  
Looking to buy a new car. Was thinking of a Land Rover LR3. has 300hp@5500rpm and 315 torque@4000 rpm.

Is that enough?

Thanks so much
Re: Towing an Airstream Mark 12-16-10  
Can you tow a 25' Airstream trailer with a Jeep Wrangler. V6 engine, and standard transmission?
Re: Towing an Airstream Julie Ann Stull 4-16-10  
I just bought a 95 dodge ram 4x4 4 doors, short bed and now I think I made mistake because I want to tow a airstream trailor when I retire. Will this truck do the job or did I make the biggest mistake of my life. Please help. I cannot sleep worrying about this problem
Re: Towing an Airstream Gary Cameron 8-28-11  
I just purchased a 22' vintage 1954 airstream safari (2500 pound) trailer and interested to know whether a Honda Pilot (V6) engine engine has the towing torque to pull mountains of Montana and Wyoming
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