And we’re off!

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We are our way to pick up our Airstream. We got out on time and our truck is packed with things we think we’ll need (thanks to the supply store at the Long Long Honeymoon) and probably plenty of things we won’t need.

A short driving day – five hours. Julie drove the entire thing. We got to Champaign, Illinois, before a glamorous Olive Garden dinner and even more glamorous night at the pet friendly La Quinta.

Short stop at the world’s largest truck stop (Iowa 80) to pick up a Midland 75-822 handheld CB at the famous Walcott CB. Listening to truckers is fun on a long drive. With more time we’ll have a permanent CB and antenna installed.

We also crossed the Mississippi today, stopping briefly in quaint – and surprisingly busy – La Claire.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but La Claire is home of Antique Archeology featured in the History Channel’s American Pickers. La Claire is also the birthplace of Buffalo Bill.

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– Anthony & Julie, Champaign, Illinois

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Tug boat

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In keeping with the Land Yacht theme, yesterday we took delivery of our tug boat. A new 2013 Ford F150, King Ranch edition, with 3.5L Ecoboost engine and the max tow package. And we think it’s beautiful. The King Ranch leather has a wonderful smell. We’re also surprised just how quiet this truck is.

The Tug will accompany an Audi A4, The Cruiser. During the week I will travel most days to work sites in different states, so two vehicles is unavoidable.

Choosing an Airstream tow vehicle can be easy – buy a diesel F250/2500HD and no math required.

Otherwise trawling Airforums you quickly realize there is religion and science. On the one hand you have folks towing Bambis with Volkswagen Golfs and Mini Coopers, which is cute. At the other end some believe anything beyond 25′ requires a 3/4 ton diesel.

  • 1/2 ton conventionally refers to the F150, Chevy/GMC/Dodge 1500 series, along with others such as Toyota Tundras.
  • 3/4 ton conventionally refers to the F250, Chevy/GMC/Dodge 2500 series. Toyota does not offer a truck in this category.

These weights originally referred to the total vehicle payload but these have long been surpassed.

One piece of religion I did accept is to choose the Airstream first and then the tow vehicle (TV).

We settled on the 28′ International. More on why in a future post.

These are the key Airstream weights:

  • GVWR: 7,600 lbs. (maximum trailer weight, fully loaded)
  • Hitch weight: 950 lbs. (I estimate 1,050 when loaded)

Choosing the TV – decision tree:

  1. SUV or truck?
  2. Gas or diesel?
  3. 1/2 ton or 3/4 ton?

SUV or truck?

Truck. With two of us and a dog a truck offered the best space utility. We have no need for third row seats. And it’s cheaper than a necessarily large Suburban/Yukon/Expedition/etc.

Gas or diesel?

Gas. This was a departure for us. We have only had diesel trucks in the past (2008 F250 King Ranch edition and 2012 GMC 2500HD Denali edition). I have also owned diesel cars (both VW Golfs). So I get diesel.

But without European gas prices, and with Ford’s Ecoboost engine, the diesel TCO does not work in our case. For now we accept the performance compromise towing on grades and at altitude.

1/2 ton or 3/4 ton?

1/2 ton. By the numbers. Properly equipped, the F150 can now tow 11,300 lbs. (max tow package) with a 3,000 lb. payload (heavy-duty payload package). Plus comfort and slightly more day-to-day practicality.

So what did we end up with?

F150, King Ranch, 3.5L Ecoboost, max. tow package.

How much can it carry and tow? First some terms.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR): what your vehicle and anything else it is towing is allowed to weigh in total (including all cargo). This is a legal limit, not a recommendation.

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Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR): what the total weight of the vehicle itself, plus on board cargo, can be. This number can be found inside the door. Again, this is a legal limit, not a recommendation.

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Maximum payload: what weight, or payload, you can put on the vehicle. That includes people, luggage, dogs, and the hitch weight of any attached trailers. This number can usually be found inside the door. Otherwise this is derived by the GVWR minus the vehicle curb weight. Vehicle curb weight refers to the unladen weight of the vehicle and is difficult to find. You can approximate through various web sites or visit a truck scale.

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Maximum towing capacity: Simply GCWR minus the loaded truck weight. Assuming your truck is at its maximum GVWR, then this is GCWR – GVWR..

So, what about our setup?

Truck

  • GCWR: 17,100 lbs.
  • GVWR: 7,650 lbs.
  • Maximum payload: 1,628 lbs.
  • Maximum towing (at truck GVWR): 17,100 lbs. – 7,650 lbs. = 9,450 lbs.

Airstream

  • GVWR: 7,600 lbs.
  • Hitch weight: 950 lbs. (I estimate 1,050 when loaded)

The clear limitation with this particular combination is not trailer weight, but payload.

1,628 lbs (max. payload) – 1,050 lbs (hitch weight) = 678 lbs. of remaining payload. That must account for all cargo, including people.

That’s tight. Very tight. But we believe sufficient. We intend to travel light. This restriction enforces that.

So when in convoy we will first load the trailer and the cargo space (trunk) of The Cruiser before loading the truck bed.

We’ll periodically check our setup on the scales and see how our math worked out . . .

– Anthony, Waukee, Iowa

The day it all begins!

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Today we purchased our Airstream! I couldn’t be more excited for this journey to begin. After much deliberation we picked out a 28′ Airstream International Signature. It was a hard choice between the 27′ or 28′ model.

We chose the 28′ because we liked the layout. Having the dinette in the middle and the couch at the end seems to define these areas. We also prefer the couch facing the TV in the 28′. I like to think the couch at the end can be a nice big bed for our dog Alfred when folded out.

We purchased the Airstream from Colonial Airstream in New Jersey (an 18 hour drive from Des Moines). Next week we’ll make the trip to go and pick it up. We can’t wait!

Later today we will be finalizing our tow vehicle for this adventure as well. I will let Anthony fill you in on all its specs in a later post.

There is really no turning back for us now, let the adventure begin!!

– Julie, Waukee, Iowa