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Airstream Towing Equipment Recommendations - Sport or Nest

Discussion in 'Model X' started by Atlantian, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    I hope to purchase an Airstream TT to pull behind our X (90D w/ 20" wheels). I plan on leaving in mid September for a 6,000 mile cross country trip from Southern CA to Ohio (via I-70), down to GA and then back to CA (via I-40). I'm looking at the Sport 16, Sport 22 or possibly the Nest. I've been reading through all the forum posts about the experiences of @JimVandegriff and @ohmman but wanted to ask if anyone would share with me the exact equipment you currently use to pull your travel trailers?

    Ohmman, I believe you no longer use the Tesla supplied Bosal hitch adapter and have replaced it with a Draw-Tite system. Which Draw-Tite system did you purchase? I'm guessing that required significant alterations and cost to the X? I ask because our X is leased so I doubt Tesla would be happy if I physically altered it. Jim, are you still using the Bosal hitch adapter?

    Are you both still using the Equal-i-zer hitch? If so, which size did you get (6K)? What LED adapter do you use (Curt #57003)? Did you install anything for braking (brake controller)? Any other items you use I should be aware of?

    By the way, what do you think of the Nest? How do you think it would perform Wh/mi compared to your Sport 22? The Nest is 16 ft 7 in long, 9 ft 6 in high with a base weight of 3400 lbs (4000 lb GVWR) and a hitch weight of 375 lbs. It is not as rounded as the Sport 22 but is a bitter thinner and slightly taller.

    Thanks everyone for your time in answering my questions!
     
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  2. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Congratulations on being adventurous! We (Illijana and I) converted our X to use the same Draw-Tite system that Ohmman pioneered, and feel good about that. We deformed our Bowsal hitch twice before doing so, and feel much safer now. We use the Equal-i-zer hitch which Bay Area Airstream supplied, so I'm not sure of the specs. We use the Curt adapter, and the Tekonsha Prodigy p2 brake controller (We have a little start out ritual chant which goes "We are blue, and dot C dot" which refers to the trailer mode, and the brake controller).
    We saw the prototype of the Nest at an RV show in 2015 before Airstream bought the design, and liked it. I haven't seen the Airstream version, so I won't comment, but I think that there are online forums about it. My GUESS is that it would perform with a similar wh/m function to the 22 ft Bambi that we have (which we love by the way.) We looked at the 16 ft Bambi, and the 19 ft. Flying Cloud when we were first shopping, but liked the layout of the 22 ft Sport the best, especially because of the separate shower in the bathroom.
    I have heard good things about the Hensley Cub hitch set up, which might work well with the Bowsal hitch, so you might want to examine that. I think Ohmman has investigated this more.
    Let us know what you decide. I'd love to read about your adventures! All the best, Jim
     
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  3. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    @Atlantian,

    The Draw-Tite part is sold here: 2016 Tesla Model X Draw-Tite Max-Frame Trailer Hitch Receiver - Custom Fit - Class III - 2". I am happy with it. Note that they rate the hitch for 750 lbs of tongue weight, though I'm sure Tesla would push back if something happened. Based on my experience to date, I feel the combo would be absolutely fine with it, though.

    Installation of the Draw-Tite hitch was done by me, and is detailed here: Draw-Tite Aftermarket Receiver Package. It was not difficult but also nontrivial. Reattaching the bumper was probably the hardest part; those clips are annoying. That said, if you are marginally handy, you could do this, save the Bosal receiver, and replace it before you return the X from lease.

    It is important to note that the stock hitch is not capable of supporting weight distribution systems. It may indeed be capable of bearing 500 pounds on the tongue, but it not capable of the dynamic stresses placed on it when driving over bumpy and uneven roads, pulling out of steep drives, etc. If the hitch can rotate freely around the ball (as in non-weight distributing systems), it is likely that it's fine. But you can imagine what it's like with those torsion bars in place trying to keep the car and trailer even and level. That's the conclusion I've come to as to why my and Jim's receiver were approaching failure.

    I am still using the Equal-i-zer hitch with the 6k torsion bars. Would I do it again? I don't think so. As Jim referred to above, I would probably go with a non-friction based solution. And based on my work reconfiguring my torsion bars after the Draw-Tite installation, I realize that there is very little torsion anyway. The car barely needs the actual weight distribution - anti-sway is what we're after. In these friction based systems, a lot of of the effect is based on the fact that there is friction applied from the torsion. For these reasons and the reason in the paragraph above, I'd consider a different anti-sway solution if I were to do it again.

    Finally, on consumption of the other campers. Nest -- My guess is that it would be slightly better than the 22' Sport in most cases, but not enough that it's worth choosing on that aspect alone. The 16' variant will almost certainly have higher consumption except in certain circumstances (slow speed, steep inclines). There is some anecdotal evidence on towing with this camper, and the numbers are in the mid-600s for 55mph/level consumption. The Sport 22 has a huge thing going for it -- it's the narrowest traditional aluminum Airstream at 7'6". The others are 8' and 8'6". This makes an outsized difference in consumption.

    I wish you the best of luck.
     
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  4. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    I agree with @ohmman, the Nest is very likely to have similar energy consumption as the Sport 22 and the Sport 16 will be somewhat higher due to its greater frontal area. Go with the model and floor plan that works best for you.

    I have not seen anyone post about towing a Nest with a Tesla.
     
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  5. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    Thank you for your replies. This really helps!

    My wife and I went and looked at the models this afternoon and we agreed the Sport 22 is the better unit for us. At least that is one decission made. Like @ohmman said about @JimVandegriff, “you can't help good taste”!

    I also asked our local dealer about using a WD hitch and he advised to just use a standard ball and hitch. I then specifically asked about the Hensley Cub and he was concerned using it would bring the tongue weight over the 500 lb. limit on the Bosal adapter and X. I know @mengwong said he was just using a standard ball and hitch. I’ll try reaching out to him and see how it’s been working.
     
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  6. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    This is also my concern. I personally wouldn't use any weight distributing hitch with the Bosal, because on surfaces that are bumpy/not level, the torque placed on the Bosal shaft are going to end up being excessive. That said, I think that the Cub + Draw-Tite make a compelling combination. The Cub is 45 lbs heavier on the tongue than the Equal-i-zer, so that must be factored in. However, the Draw-Tite, as I mentioned above, is rated for 750 lbs so you gain at least a little more comfort around the 500 lb vehicle limit.

    I have on and off considered replacing my Equal-i-zer with a Cub, and it may happen. If so, I'll definitely update the forum. Aside from the $1800 hit, my apprehension is mostly based on the ease of hitching/unhitching in bumpy/far from level USFS and remote campsites. Lining up the shank with the receiver on the Cub seems like it might be a challenge in those cases, though it would be much easier to hitch and unhitch in almost all other circumstances.

    Congratulations on your decision to go with the Sport 22! I do think it is the ideal Airstream model to pull with the X, so I'm glad the layout worked for you. Having a full bathroom is more beneficial than you might think. :)

    Keep us informed as you progress, if you wouldn't mind.
     
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  7. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Wonderful news! Illijana and I really like the Sport 22 configuration. I would recommend getting a bumper put on the back, as it is a great place to store hoses. What were your impressions of the Nest? Seemed like an interesting concept to me. Congratulations, and we will be looking forward to hearing more about your hitch selection and travels. Jim
     
  8. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    The 16' Sport and Basecamp are lighter and larger than the Nest.

    We've been looking at trailer options, and didn't see any benefit in going with the small Nest.

    The 22' Sport is a little heavier - but has so many more features (full bathroom & sleeping area, …).
     
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  9. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    @ohmman - The full bath and having a bed that I don't have to setup each night were huge. I actually didn't originally consider buying the 22 only because I incorrectly thought it would decrease my range because of the extra weight. I thought the 16 would be better but didn't realize it was so wide which cuts down on the aerodynamics and range. The 22 is really a great layout. The only thing that would have made it better was if there was a way the person sleeping closest to the front window could get back there without climbing over the other person. I'll be taking that window spot and my wife will be taking the one closest to the dinette. I definitely plan on keeping everyone updated. I hope to leave on my 6000 mile journey in mid September. Do you have a contact at Bay Area Airstream that I can contact? It sounds like they have a lot of experience with the 22 and the X. Maybe it would be best if I purchase the 22 from them?

    @JimVandegriff - Thanks for the recommendation on the bumper! Do you have solar on your 22? I would be interested in it just to keep the house batteries charged. This may be necessary if I ever have to use the campgrounds outlet for the Tesla only and not have the Airstream plugged in. Any other options you would recommend? Did you change your house batteries to lithium? I did like the Nest unit however it doesn't have the classic Airstream look and I'm a little concerned about it's resale value and service issues because of the fiberglass construction versus the aluminum. I'm still not sure which hitch I will use. I'm actually leaning on just going commando like @mengwong does mainly because our X is a lease.

    @bob_p - I agree that there are no benefits with going with the Nest over the Sport 22. The 22 is very roomy!
     
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  10. JimVandegriff

    JimVandegriff Member

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    Yes, we have two 100 watt solar panels on the roof of the Airstream which keep the two batteries charged up (we added an extra one). The other options we added were the electric jack in front which Illijana and I really like, and the stainless steel rock guards (not really necessary but have saved a few dings). Our big recommendation - get a dehumidifier (we use a Pro Breeze PB-03) to keep dampness out when we aren't using the trailer, and because there is some possibility of mold/fungus growing under the mattress when you use it (yep, we had it), we put in Hypervent Condensation prevention matting under the mattress which works well.
    I'd recommend that you spend the first night or two in a campground near the Airstream dealer, and make sure everything works to your satisfaction (we had to have them adjust the hot water heater on the day after purchase).
    We are looking forward to your reports, and the fun places you will go! Jim
     
  11. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    So far, it looks like the Bowlus Road Chief and 22' Airstream Sport (at half the price) are the best options.

    With a 100D, the practical range (keeping charge between 10-90%) of a Road Chief appears to be around 160-170 miles and with the 22' Sport the practical range is around 120-130 miles, assuming driving at 55 MPH, with longer range for the first charging stop by topping off at 100% overnight.

    For the Road Chief, that's about the practical range we had with our S P85, though that was at full highway speeds, vs. 55 MPH with a trailer.

    We took a 2500 mile road trip with our S P85 several years ago - and had to stop at almost every supercharger on the route - and spend extra time to get between 90-100% charge at each stop.

    Sounds like we'd be doing something similar with an X 100D and a trailer, except that we'd be driving at 55 instead of 75-85...

    Or am I missing something? Is there another travel trailer option that gets better range? Or have owners seen better range with the 22' Sport?
     
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  12. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    I don't think there's any specific expertise about the two that you haven't already run across here. Bay Area Airstream were supplying Equal-i-zer hitches with the Bosal receiver until I told them about the failure. They no longer recommend it. So what you read here is just as up to date, if not more so than what they have. Just buy from the dealer with the best price and service. And it's worth noting that prices are negotiable on Airstreams, sometimes up to 30% off depending on the time of year, specific model, etc.

    You're not missing anything. You'll be stopping more often and for longer times. You'll be unhitching frequently in order to back into chargers, which adds even more time. That's just the current state of pulling a trailer with a Model X. You do gain some benefit in that campsites with hookups will have a 50A for your car, and you wake up ready to go.

    For us, it's worth the extra effort. I wouldn't have a camper in any other circumstance, so it has made a lot of vacations possible for our family.
     
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  13. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    Okay, almost pulled the trigger on the Sport 22. Quick question...

    Price between 2018 with 2 year warranty and 2019 with 3 year warranty is $2,000.00. Both units have the Airstream factory installed backup camera. Which would you pick?
     
  14. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    Typo above. Difference is $2800.00.
     
  15. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    I think that number adequately captures first year depreciation, so it’s an equivalent comparison. Since they don’t appear to have any real differences, and depreciation tapers year after year, I think I’d buy the new 2018 and save on one year’s depreciation. That would limit my overall depreciation upon resale, and calculating that was a big part of my purchase (in case we didn’t enjoy the experience).

    Either choice is good, though. Good luck.
     
  16. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    If the price difference also includes adding a 3rd year to the warranty, that might be of value - depending upon issues typically needing service in the 3rd year.
     
  17. ohmman

    ohmman Maximum Plaid Member

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    It’s worth consideration. But I’d personally not pay $2800 for a one year extended warranty on a small travel trailer. Really, I never buy extended warranties at all. :) It’s a personal preference regardless.
     
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  18. Atlantian

    Atlantian Member

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    I ended up getting tge 2018 for $4K less than the 2019. Just waiting for the dealer to add 200W solar to the unit.
     
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  19. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    Has anyone towed a Nest or Basecamp with their Model X?

    If so, what was the average Whr/mile energy consumption?
     
  20. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    We've been evaluating a purchase of either a Airstream 22' Sport or a Bowlus Road Chief.

    Assuming we keep charge above 10%. For the Airstream, we'd get about 156 miles @ 55 MPH (starting at 100%) or 140 miles (starting at 90%), under "typical" driving conditions.

    The Road Chief would get around 190 miles (at 100%) or 168 miles (at 90%).

    Assuming we try to drive 400 miles per day (which may be pushing it), we'd likely need 2 charging stops for either trailer. We'd use more energy with the Airstream, but because of tapering, the extra energy usage would be at the low end of charge, and would re-charge relatively quickly.

    Assuming we stayed at 55 MPH and start the day with 100% charge, driving+charging for the Airstream would be around 9 hours, and around 8.5 hours for the Bowlus. The only way we'd save a larger amount of time with the Bowlus would be if we could eliminate one of the charging stops.

    Considering the Airstream is less than half the price of the low end Bowlus, and appears to have more interior space, not sure if saving a half hour of charging time per day is worth the higher price of the Bowlus.

    It also looks like the major features we like in the Bowlus Limited Edition (LiOn batteries, LTE hotspot/router/booster) could be added to an Airstream at a significantly lower cost.

    Or are we missing something with this assessment???
     
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