TheFatMan

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My wife and I just got back from a two week adventure with my 2021 Willys six speed manual towing an Airstream Bambi Sport a little over 4600 miles. The trip was from our home in far northern Wisconsin to Utah, Arizona and Colorado.

We started the trip with a first mishap in Utah where a trailer tire decided to blow out so we basically lost a day getting new shoes for the Airstream in Cedar City, Utah. Once that was sorted, we drove to the Cedar Breaks national monument and camped there above 10,000 feet for our first night in the outdoors. No cell, no wifi, nothing but dark skies and amazing views.

Next, it was on to Bryce, Kodachrome valley and Capitol Reef. We took a bunch of petroglyph photos near Capitol Reef and camped in a little town near Boulder called Escalante. I drove Hell’s Backbone in the truck. The views were stunning, but it’s not an ORV trail. More like a poorly maintained dirt/gravel road but was a very cool drive none the less. We ate ate the Hell’s Backbone grill that night. I only mention the restaurant because it was exceptional. If you are ever in the area, do try it.

Then, it was on to Mesa Verde via Page, AZ. We stopped to see the Glen Canyon Dam and horseshoe bend and spent a night in Page. Mesa Verde is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited. Photos don’t do the place justice.

Next, we went to Durango for a couple of days and just acted like tourists. We rode the Durango to Silverton train. Also a very cool day and Silverton is like a town that time forgot.
I did ORV trails in and around Capitol Reef, Hell’s Backbone and Durango.

The good:
My little truck did just fine towing a 3500# Airstream up and down mountains. I wouldn’t win any hill climb races, but it did great. I watched engine oil temp climbing mountain passes and the highest it ever got was 236* climbing the Wolf Creek Pass (10,856’) in southern Colorado. As soon as I cleared the pass, it dropped back down to normal in short order.
Nebraska is flat! I could use cruise control in 5th gear to maintain roughly 70 mph through the whole state.

Colorado, Utah and Northern Arizona are not flat. I spent a lot of time shifting gears to keep it in an RPM range where it pulled ok.

The bad:
13.5 MPG over two weeks and 4600 miles. I don’t know what I expected, but my normal “around town” gas mileage is more like 21-22MPG. this engine pulls best at 3k rpm or so without seeming to wind out. The ratio between 4th and 5th isn’t close enough. Sometimes, 4th is more than enough torque for Highway hills but 5th is not enough.

All in all, the only casualties were a trailer tire, side window on the camper and a Gorilla glass windshield from the same dump truck that showered me with gravel near Monument Valley. You can see the broken camper window in one of the photos.

No, the gladiator with a six speed manual isn’t the ideal tow rig. Yes, it’s underpowered in the mountains (who wouldn’t want a power stroke diesel for climbing mountain passes?). But I can’t think of many other rigs that would allow me to pull the camper and then unhook and go off roading like I did. Short of a diesel pusher motor home towing the jeep, this was a great combination for a couple weeks on the trail.

6C83F2DE-C4F8-4FF3-9131-40DF8423066F.jpeg

4EFD0B28-6B18-49DE-BC35-3586762920A1.jpeg
1CE85A1E-EC44-459A-8983-61027F909210.jpeg
5DA45E3D-D95B-4D60-891D-C08AAE8F9A0E.jpeg
CC5BB75D-4152-4425-9980-3E7AA0628621.jpeg
6246C4A4-F80D-4860-8286-C7A60830447E.jpeg

 
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IAGLADI8R

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Looks like an awesome trip, thanks for sharing
 

JTPatriot

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Wow! that sounds like a very nice trip! Glad you had a good time. As far as gas mileage, that is not to bad, I always just figure mileage will be about half of what non towing mileage generally is.
 

XJFanatic

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That’s some beautiful country. Thanks for sharing!!

When I hang up the uniform in 6 years my plan is to drop the kids off with family and do a cross country month long trip with the wife.
 

Jaxmax

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Mileage is what you get with a six cylinder towing, I’m towing 4,000 lb camper getting 12.5 in Hilly area. It the one picture your rear looks sagged a bit perhaps a weight hitch would be an idea. I use one and it does make a difference…..Jack
 
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Advntrbound

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It sounds like an awesome trip. I'm glad to see an ARR from another manual transmission owner pulling a trailer.
 

redriderjf87

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My wife and I just got back from a two week adventure with my 2021 Willys six speed manual towing an Airstream Bambi Sport a little over 4600 miles. The trip was from our home in far northern Wisconsin to Utah, Arizona and Colorado.

We started the trip with a first mishap in Utah where a trailer tire decided to blow out so we basically lost a day getting new shoes for the Airstream in Cedar City, Utah. Once that was sorted, we drove to the Cedar Breaks national monument and camped there above 10,000 feet for our first night in the outdoors. No cell, no wifi, nothing but dark skies and amazing views.

Next, it was on to Bryce, Kodachrome valley and Capitol Reef. We took a bunch of petroglyph photos near Capitol Reef and camped in a little town near Boulder called Escalante. I drove Hell’s Backbone in the truck. The views were stunning, but it’s not an ORV trail. More like a poorly maintained dirt/gravel road but was a very cool drive none the less. We ate ate the Hell’s Backbone grill that night. I only mention the restaurant because it was exceptional. If you are ever in the area, do try it.

Then, it was on to Mesa Verde via Page, AZ. We stopped to see the Glen Canyon Dam and horseshoe bend and spent a night in Page. Mesa Verde is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited. Photos don’t do the place justice.

Next, we went to Durango for a couple of days and just acted like tourists. We rode the Durango to Silverton train. Also a very cool day and Silverton is like a town that time forgot.
I did ORV trails in and around Capitol Reef, Hell’s Backbone and Durango.

The good:
My little truck did just fine towing a 3500# Airstream up and down mountains. I wouldn’t win any hill climb races, but it did great. I watched engine oil temp climbing mountain passes and the highest it ever got was 236* climbing the Wolf Creek Pass (10,856’) in southern Colorado. As soon as I cleared the pass, it dropped back down to normal in short order.
Nebraska is flat! I could use cruise control in 5th gear to maintain roughly 70 mph through the whole state.

Colorado, Utah and Northern Arizona are not flat. I spent a lot of time shifting gears to keep it in an RPM range where it pulled ok.

The bad:
13.5 MPG over two weeks and 4600 miles. I don’t know what I expected, but my normal “around town” gas mileage is more like 21-22MPG. this engine pulls best at 3k rpm or so without seeming to wind out. The ratio between 4th and 5th isn’t close enough. Sometimes, 4th is more than enough torque for Highway hills but 5th is not enough.

All in all, the only casualties were a trailer tire, side window on the camper and a Gorilla glass windshield from the same dump truck that showered me with gravel near Monument Valley. You can see the broken camper window in one of the photos.

No, the gladiator with a six speed manual isn’t the ideal tow rig. Yes, it’s underpowered in the mountains (who wouldn’t want a power stroke diesel for climbing mountain passes?). But I can’t think of many other rigs that would allow me to pull the camper and then unhook and go off roading like I did. Short of a diesel pusher motor home towing the jeep, this was a great combination for a couple weeks on the trail.
Thanks for sharing your experience, love airstreams. You have 3.73 I'm assuming? This would be extra motivation for me to change to a correct axle ratio.
 

mrminux

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LOVE the trailer.

I got to say.... Gladiator + classically styled airstream = match made in heaven. The first picture I seen where the airstream is complimented by the car pulling her!
 
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OP
TheFatMan

TheFatMan

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@redriderjf87
I’m assuming 3.73. Bone stock Willys edition. I live in Wisconsin. This place was smashed flat by a glacier 10,000 or so years ago. At home, near sea level (house is at 1200’ by gps) and on billiard table flat roads, the gearing is perfectly adequate. Mountains, not so much. It takes a lot more effort to keep the engine spinning in its “happy” rpm range with extreme elevation changes and the thin air that goes along with it.
@Jaxmax
Agree, a load distributing hitch will be the first order of business before our next long trip.
@mrminux
Thanks, I tend to agree. Nearly everywhere we stopped, someone wanted to know about the rig. I’m usually not too hung up on aesthetics and prefer functional to pretty, but I think that rig is both.
I did empty both the fresh an black water tanks for longer hauls, spared me a couple hundred pounds. I’m convinced my seat of the pants dynamometer could feel the difference. My wife thinks I’m nuts (for more reasons than that, too).
 

cggrau

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My wife and I just got back from a two week adventure with my 2021 Willys six speed manual towing an Airstream Bambi Sport a little over 4600 miles. The trip was from our home in far northern Wisconsin to Utah, Arizona and Colorado.

We started the trip with a first mishap in Utah where a trailer tire decided to blow out so we basically lost a day getting new shoes for the Airstream in Cedar City, Utah. Once that was sorted, we drove to the Cedar Breaks national monument and camped there above 10,000 feet for our first night in the outdoors. No cell, no wifi, nothing but dark skies and amazing views.

Next, it was on to Bryce, Kodachrome valley and Capitol Reef. We took a bunch of petroglyph photos near Capitol Reef and camped in a little town near Boulder called Escalante. I drove Hell’s Backbone in the truck. The views were stunning, but it’s not an ORV trail. More like a poorly maintained dirt/gravel road but was a very cool drive none the less. We ate ate the Hell’s Backbone grill that night. I only mention the restaurant because it was exceptional. If you are ever in the area, do try it.

Then, it was on to Mesa Verde via Page, AZ. We stopped to see the Glen Canyon Dam and horseshoe bend and spent a night in Page. Mesa Verde is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited. Photos don’t do the place justice.

Next, we went to Durango for a couple of days and just acted like tourists. We rode the Durango to Silverton train. Also a very cool day and Silverton is like a town that time forgot.
I did ORV trails in and around Capitol Reef, Hell’s Backbone and Durango.

The good:
My little truck did just fine towing a 3500# Airstream up and down mountains. I wouldn’t win any hill climb races, but it did great. I watched engine oil temp climbing mountain passes and the highest it ever got was 236* climbing the Wolf Creek Pass (10,856’) in southern Colorado. As soon as I cleared the pass, it dropped back down to normal in short order.
Nebraska is flat! I could use cruise control in 5th gear to maintain roughly 70 mph through the whole state.

Colorado, Utah and Northern Arizona are not flat. I spent a lot of time shifting gears to keep it in an RPM range where it pulled ok.

The bad:
13.5 MPG over two weeks and 4600 miles. I don’t know what I expected, but my normal “around town” gas mileage is more like 21-22MPG. this engine pulls best at 3k rpm or so without seeming to wind out. The ratio between 4th and 5th isn’t close enough. Sometimes, 4th is more than enough torque for Highway hills but 5th is not enough.

All in all, the only casualties were a trailer tire, side window on the camper and a Gorilla glass windshield from the same dump truck that showered me with gravel near Monument Valley. You can see the broken camper window in one of the photos.

No, the gladiator with a six speed manual isn’t the ideal tow rig. Yes, it’s underpowered in the mountains (who wouldn’t want a power stroke diesel for climbing mountain passes?). But I can’t think of many other rigs that would allow me to pull the camper and then unhook and go off roading like I did. Short of a diesel pusher motor home towing the jeep, this was a great combination for a couple weeks on the trail.

6C83F2DE-C4F8-4FF3-9131-40DF8423066F.jpeg

4EFD0B28-6B18-49DE-BC35-3586762920A1.jpeg
1CE85A1E-EC44-459A-8983-61027F909210.jpeg
5DA45E3D-D95B-4D60-891D-C08AAE8F9A0E.jpeg
CC5BB75D-4152-4425-9980-3E7AA0628621.jpeg
6246C4A4-F80D-4860-8286-C7A60830447E.jpeg
Thank you for sharing!
 


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Awesome post. Love the airstream/jt combo. I get similar mileage towing my 3000# Taxa with my Mojave. Can't wait to get out west again. Let us know about your next adventure.
 

Advntrbound

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I have a Sport S MT with digital gas gauges.
That's interesting, I always assumed the lower models were just analog. I have a MT Sport S but analog. Wonder what package you have that gets the digital gauges?.

 

 
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