'10 Expedition and trailer size

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Elisabeth M

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Jun 25, 2019
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Hello!

It's what you've been waiting for all day - yet ANOTHER question about SUV tow capacity and trailer size. Sorry to be the broken record but I have a few questions.

We're looking around for a trailer to tow with our 2010 Expedition EL. It's got the 5.4L engine, the 3.73 axle ratio, multi-link independent rear suspension, and the heavy duty tow package with the transmission cooler, etc. The tow capacity is 8,700, the GCWR is 15,000 and the payload is 1,393 (because we have the Limited interior, I expect).

I'm looking at trailers in the late 1990s-early 2000s and have focused in on finding a Nash 24A. We love the layout for little kids. You can also get the same layout in a Fleetwood Terry, but I'm less enthused about the build quality of those for four season camping in the PNW. My husband would love to find an Arctic Fox 24A but I think those are about as rare as hens teeth, and some years are really heavy. 

I know I need 10-20% margin on my tow capacity, especially if we wanted to go to Yellowstone or Glacier from the PNW. That pulls our tow capacity down from 8700 to about 7000. The sticking point will always be the payload on the rig - even with a weight distributing hitch the tongue is going to put us close or at our payload capacity, with two kids (as of now...we didn't get the EL because we were going to just have the two!), their carseats and a 70lbs dog.

We will 100% be staying below a 24ft model, as we can't park anything longer, nor would we want to tow that long. I have zero interest in a ultra-lite model, and would love to find a NW edition with an insulated underbelly and heated tanks.

However, I'm stuck on the numbers! Here's the numbers on models we might consider or are available on Craigslist locally right now. From my research they seem pretty representative of weights for these layouts and lengths.

2000 Fleetwood Pioneer, 18T6 - GVWR of 6000, dry 3,905, hitch 426
1999 Fleetwood Wilderness Lite 822W - GVRW of 5,400, dry 3,710, hitch 480
1999 Fleetwood Terry 24C - GVWR of 6,300, dry 4,440, hitch 540
1997-2000 Nash 24A - GVRW of 7000, dry 4,398, hitch 440-500 (depending on year)

So the 24ft models are clearly the heaviest. The shorter/lite models are lighter. Duh. But their hitch weight is all pretty similar, and it seems with our tow setup that that will be the sticking point. I would love to find something with a healthy cargo capacity, because we're obviously not putting much in the Expedition. The Fleetwood has almost the same dry weight as the Nash but the Nash has a way better cargo capacity and a lighter hitch, so that would be a big win for us.

Our previous towing experience has been a 2017 Coachman Clipper 16FB pulled behind a 1994 Ford E-150 4.9L that was woefully underpowered, over winding roads and steep hills in the pouring rain. My husband was not stressed by that situation, even though the rig was underpowered and chugged on ANY hill. (The gear ratios in that van have always been funky) He is looking forward to towing with something with a bit of a bigger engine, but I definitely do NOT want to max out the Expedition with trailer that is too big.

I feel like at this point I know enough to be dangerous but not enough to make at truly informed decision! The cautious side of me says to add a 20% margin to the 20% margin and go with a rig that has a dry weight of >4,000, but then I consider that the tongue weight isn't any different, so the real tight point in our numbers doesn't matter there. The real advantage with a lighter rig would be the lower profile of the trailer and less strain on the transmission and brakes, right?

Should we be looking for that coveted 24ft layout in the heavier trailer, or hedge our bets and look for the smaller, more cramped layout that will tow easiest?

Thoughts?

(My apologies for a long post that I guarantee you have pretty much read before!)
 

SpencerPJ

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I have a 05 Yukon XL. 5.3 v8, tow package etc, a bit more payload at 1550, and I wouldn't go above 6500 gvwr.  You mentioned your f150 being underpowered, You sound like me.  I don't need a 1 ton diesel, but I do want to merge onto the freeway and make it up a decent hill with sounding like I'm blowing up at 4500 rpm.  The Nash and Arctic Fox are heavier because they tend to be better constructed.  Everything has a trade off  ::)  Your payload is pretty limiting. 
 

lynnmor

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May 14, 2013
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I think you will find that the hitch weight will be far above the figures you have for dry weight.  Until you actually weight the tongues, you can't even guess what the actual weight will be.  The GVWR is usually a reflection of the higher capacity of the tires, axles and brakes, so higher is a good thing.  I looked at Nash some years ago and found that the smaller models had frames that were rather light, similar to the Lippert junk.  I do think that I would buy the Nash before the others.
 

Ernie n Tara

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Ft Myers, FL
For reasonable towing the hitch weight is going to be 10 - 12% on any trailer. In your case the preferred trailer will about 700 lb. You will be close, but probably within limits. Don't expect great performance.

Ernie
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
I don't see a problem with your Expedition and one of those trailers. Yes, pushing the limit, but not anything I would call dangerous or unacceptable.

Figure the estimated tongue weight at 10% of the trailer GVWR, e.g. 700 lbs for that Nash 24A (7000 GVWR). Ignore the dry weight and dry hitch weights - they are not useful for anything. So you use up 700 of your 1393 payload, leaving 693 for you, hubby, kids, the dog an the hitch. Enough? Probably, though maybe not much to spare. If in doubt, put the family and the dog on the bathroom scale.

A 7000 lb trailer is well within the tow rating, even after allowing for the [roughly] 693 lb passenger weight in the Expedition. I don't see a problem there.


To put your mind at ease, I suggest you load the family and dog into the Expedition and drive it to a scale to get the actual loaded weight when ready for travel. Then you will know the exact details.  The loaded weight can be compared to the Expedition GVWR and you can get the real trailer tow capacity by subtracting the loaded weight from the GCWR.
 

Elisabeth M

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Jun 25, 2019
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Thanks for the feedback, guys! I feel very reassured about the numbers. I can tend to be the person that sees that you need a 20% margin and then wants to add another 20% margin. My husband works extensively with crazy custom machines that have absurd safety measures and tight tolerances and he laughs at me, as if to say that worrying about your payload capacity is small fry compared to worrying about safety calculations on a 35,000 gallon water tank at hundreds of PSI . . .

We're moving cautiously ahead looking for our ideal rig . . . saw three Nash 24As come up this week, but all with bunks instead of a full bed in the back, so we'll just keep waiting for one to pop up with the right configuration.

 
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