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Old 03-20-2003, 01:33 PM   #1
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There is an interesting "road test" in the April issue of Trailer Life. The test involves a Ford Expedition (119" wheelbase) and a 29 foot travel trailer. The article was very favorable to this combination. I have seen a formula which would indicate that the maximum trailer length a tow vehicle with a 119" wheelbase should trailer is 22 feet. Obviously the road test combination is way over on trailer length - which leads me to believe the formula I have seen is not accurate. Any comments? I am presently looking for a new SUV and had ruled out the Expedition because I am looking to upgrade my trailer to a 29 to 30 foot model.
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Old 03-20-2003, 02:40 PM   #2
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This is My Opinon, and only My Opinion.

The wheelbase to length "formula" doesn't take into account the weight of the trailer. Obviously a longer wheelbase can handle a larger trailer much easier and safely, but as you pointed out, TL gave favorable reviews to the combination that they had.

If that same length trailer was a heavier coach I don't think the Expedition would have handled it as easily. I think we all agree that the larger Suburbans and Excursions with their heavier weight can safely a heavier trailer.

Trailer weight for a length plays much more importantly to than does length to wheelbase.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Old 03-20-2003, 05:41 PM   #3
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The weight and length of the trailer and truck all come into play as well as the speed ot towing and the wind conditions. The Expy is basically a short SUV with a short wheelbase and a high center of gravity. This tested combonation apparently worked in the limited testing done by TL.

I think you will find that most of the long term driven rigs and owners will say no for a 30' trailer on a 1/2 ton vehicle. I'd keep it under 25' for a max on the Expy if it were me. I do not agree with a lot of TL's testing. I think the advertising dollar does weigh heavily in their reports.

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Old 03-21-2003, 03:34 AM   #4
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I agree that the advertising dollar leads the magazines to always write up 'good' articals. We the reader must still take what we read with a grain of salt.
IMHO if your going to tow a larger than 22' travel trailer you really should concider a 3/4 ton tow vehical.

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Old 03-21-2003, 06:03 AM   #5
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I wouldn't place a whole lot of stock in the Trailer Life article... They always tend to stray from reality especially when reviewing their advertisers rigs which in this case holds true...

As Ken has said, a 30 foot trailer is generally considered to be too much trailer for a 1/2 ton 119" wheelbase chassis... There test was minimal and even when TL has problems or see's glaring defects in a truck or trailer, they tend to soft sell that particular fault... IMO, they do a GREAT DISSERVICE to their readers in this respect...

There has also recently been a lot of bally hoo regarding Ford's new independant rear suspension on the Expy and Explorer...

While there is no doubt that independant rear suspension adds value to the stability factor of these trucks, it IS NOT an answerall to short wheelbase vehicles towing long heavy trailers...

Don't be deceived into this form of thinking by Trailer Life and other magazine commentaries... Basic laws of physics still apply here...

When you have a long, heavy trailer, it is a powerfull moment arm trying to skew the tow vehicle... The longer the tow vehicle wheelbase and heavier the tow vehicle, the less apt sway is to begin regardless of independant rear suspension or not...

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Old 03-21-2003, 06:13 AM   #6
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I have never actually seen the wheelbase ratio anywhere but on RV BB. If someone has a publication with the formula I would love to see it.

If that is the formula a few things. The 130 inch burb would be maxed at 25 ft. (I have towed my 25 ft. ultra light with a 3/4 ton burb) I am not exagerating (much ) when I say that it was like it wasn't behind me.

The weight is probably the key. The bigger the tow vehicle the better it is going to handle it.

Last, Lenght does not equal weight. Saying you have to have a heavier duty truck just because something is X long is wrong. My 25ft ultralight that weighs 4500 lbs does not need a 3/4 ton truck to pull it. There can be great differences in the weights of two different 25 ft. trailers. For example my 4500 is loaded to the max with everything that we could want (including kids bikes, dog cages . . . . It is so full that we have to move stuff out just to get in the door) But, another 25ft. trailer that I have viewed has a dry weight of 5000.
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Old 03-21-2003, 06:57 AM   #7
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If you want to tow a 29-30' trailer with an SUV, get an Excursion.

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Old 03-21-2003, 07:05 AM   #8
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RoadKingMoe:
If you want to tow a 29-30' trailer with an SUV, get an Excursion.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The Excursion has a 137 inch wheel base. Using the "formula" the maximum trailer is 26ft 10 inches.

I don't disagree that the Excursion is the SUV of choice if you want a trailer around 30ft. and have a family. But, I just wanted to show the problems with the 'formula'
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Old 03-21-2003, 12:46 PM   #9
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There are actually two formulas floating around... the overly conservative one discussed here, and the overly optimistic one that says the tow vehicle wheelbase should be at least half the distance from the center of the trailer's rear axle to the center of it's ball coupler.

The overly conservative formula says I need 170" (i.e. a 172" Crew Cab Long Bed) to tow my 34'10" trailer. That trailer measures 280" from center of rear axle to center of ball coupler, the second formula says I need 140" (a SuperCab ShortBed). Splitting the difference would be 155" and make a 156" CrewCab ShortBed or my 158" SuperCab LongBed fill the bill.

Modifying the first formula to say 110" for a 23' trailer plus 4" per additional foot, would put my 158" right on the money for a 35' trailer, and put the 137" just an inch short of 30'.

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Old 03-22-2003, 04:51 AM   #10
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I really hate to chime in with "from experience" because what I see many people experiencing going down the road is DANGEROUS - it is often obvious the rigs are overloaded (weight and length). However, now that I have ventured into this discussion, let me say that I am pulling a 33ft Sunnybrook with an Excursion. I have towed the rig about 15,000 miles over the last 2 years. Once I got the proper hitch head angle and heavy duty weight bars, this things tows very well. I am not overloading the limits of the truck or trailer (CAT scales a few times to verify). I take my time, keep my distance, etc to be as safe as possible because I KNOW this rig won't stop quickly. What I do know is I don't have significant sway issues. Maybe I just got lucky with this combo, maybe the Excursion loaded weight of 8,600 lbs makes the difference, maybe I'm just stupid and being fooled that this setup works so well
I did all the research before purchasing the trailer and too was concerned. I admit initially to being overcome with desire for this specific trailer and I'm sure that skewed my decision. I also know the way the dealer set up the hitch and bars, my first towing experience had me wondering because I had significant sway. I was startig to question the trailer/truck combo, then learned on this site how to set up the hitch and get larger sway bars. Since then, to be honest, I hardly notice even wind gusts or trucks going by on the interstate - no white knuckles!!
Best wishes on getting the right combo and make sure your weights are within limits and your hitch setup is up to par!

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Old 03-22-2003, 05:10 AM   #11
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Don't know about validity of formulae, but did haul our 25' Airstream with '98 Expedition and was quite satisfied. Miliage mounted fast, so decided to trade it in. Replacement selected was 6.0 Liter 3/4 ton GMC YUKON XL (Suburban). Larger power and wheelbase of the Suburban was noticable, but not worth trading in the Expedition for that alone. Wheel base and Trailer length probably more a factor in your decision, however.

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Old 03-22-2003, 05:35 AM   #12
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Maybe I just got lucky with this combo, maybe the Excursion loaded weight of 8,600 lbs makes the difference <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
If you have a TT hooked up to this combo and people on board it will be much more than 8,600 with 44 gal of fuel. The 4x4 PSD Excursion has a 5,200lb front axle rating and 7,000 lb rear axle rating. The 9,200lb GVWR is with stock springs and D rated tires. With Air Lift's and E rated tires (80psi) you can carry more since it has the same brakes and GCWR (20,000) as a DRW F350.

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Old 04-07-2003, 07:42 PM   #13
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I too would like to see where this "formula" came from.

Anyway, there are so many other factors to consider that would render the "formula" innaccurate. Tire size and type (LT or P), distance from hitch to rear axle, suspension type, sway control type, hitch weight, etc.

I towed a 25 ft Jayco with a Jeep GC v8 and NEVER....EVER experienced adverse sway, if any. I towed in windy, hilly and all temp extremes. The trailer was 4700 lbs.

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Old 04-09-2003, 06:10 AM   #14
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With 137" WB and 41 ft TT I guess I broke the formula by a bunch. But my combo handles it perfectly. The PSD 4x4 Excursion and 41 ft TT have a perfect 50/50 weight balance within the 20,000 lb GCWR. I give most of the credit to the Hensley Arrow.

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