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Old 10-01-2003, 09:17 PM   #1
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Hmmm...Chevy Burban 1/2 ton and 27' Safari.

Howdy, all!

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this trailering set-up. I hate to ask one of these trailering-type questions but I have to give in finally. I've been reading as much as possible to make an informed decision/question but hey, 10s of thousands of dollars are at stake here, so I gotta ask you "experts" for confirmation/objections first!

Situation:

We'd like to buy an A/S once and for all and feel that 27' feet would meet that need in terms of long-term livability. Need a separate bedroom (for babies to cry themselves to sleep in) and twin beds preferably. A dinette and sofa would be nice, places which can hold people (kids drawing at the table and parents sitting on the sofa). The 25'ers can potentially meet that need except it has that full bed/rear bath mix which is a little less than ideal (walking past sleeping kids to use the BR). We live in western Colorado and may need to routinely cross mountain passes up to 10,000 ft.

Tow vehicle: 2003 Chevy Suburban 1/2 ton 5.3L, V8, 4.1 a.r.

GCWR 14000, GVWR 7200 => leaving about 6800 lbs for a trailer (assuming reaching max GVWR, right?)
Carries bicycles, kayaks, associated gear (~100-200 lbs). Oh yeah, 2 adults (total 200 lbs), 1 baby (20 lbs) and 1 Golden Retriever puppy (30 lbs, going on likely 80 lbs). Will likely need to go to one of those scales. Have no clue if we're anywhere near GVWR.

Trailer: A/S 2000 Safari 27'

GVWR 7300, Dry weight 5440 + Hitch 730 = 6170 lbs
Read on another thread that water and propane would add about 460 lbs as well => 6170 + 640 = 6810 (which just about matches my limit for a trailer assuming max Towing Vehicle GVWR, right?). So, either no further trailer cargo (with max towing vehicle GVWR) or (if not reaching Towing Vehicle GVWR) up to about 500 lbs additional trailer cargo, right?

In summary: Possible with less than max truck GVWR and max/near max trailer GVWR. Right? Or wrong (cause of the mountains, 20-25% less than max rule, etc.)????

WELL, what do you think?

1) Do-able? By a lot (probably not)? Barely (maybe)?
2) Is it safe?
3) Any families out there doing just fine in a 25'er?

Thanks ahead of time for your advice/info/critique.
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Old 10-04-2003, 10:12 PM   #2
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Re:2003 Chevy 1/2 ton burban & 27' Safari

Here's my 2 cents, based on experience towing an A/S with a Chevy 5.3. (2000 Chevy 1500 Silverado with a 19' Bambi)

The 5.3 is a great engine. The only drawback (for towing) is that in order for it to perform you have to spin it! Since your Burb has 4.10 gears this should be no problem as long as you tow with the trans in the "tow/haul" mode. You will need to lock it out of O/D whenever you're actually in the mountains otherwise you'll find yourself in O/D at the bottom of a steep hill and will loose momentum so fast the trans will end up in 2nd gear in about 1.5 seconds (speaking from experience). I towed my Bambi north out of Durango on hwy 550 and never had any trouble accellating uphill even at 10,000'. I averaged 14 MPG towing my Bambi from CA to CO and back and spent very little time on the interstate.

Your assumption of subtracting your Suburban's GVWR from it's GCWR is a good "quick & dirty" method of determining max trailer weight. However it ignores the fact that most of the trailer's tongue weight is carried by the tow vehicle and needs to be subtracted from your payload. Also, you were adding tongue weight to the trailer's dry weight which is already figured into the dry weight. If you add 1,000 lbs to the trailer's "wet weight" you'll come pretty close to your normal road weight (based on how much weight we carried in our camper with our son and 2 small dogs).

Since you have a 1/2 ton Surburban I'll make a recommendation regarding tires. If you have 265/70-16s consider replacing them with a set of 245/75-16s. GM mounts the 265/70s on a rim that too narrow for best stability.

As for whether a 25' is large enough it all comes down to what you can live with. The only advantage to a 27' Safari (over a 25') is the split bathroom, larger wardrobe, and a bit more space in the living room area. There is only about 500 lbs difference between the 25 and 27 foot Safari.
When our son was 6 months old we took him on a 3 week trip in our 10' slide-in camper along with 2 small dogs. Very tight but doable. The trick is setting up a sleeping area just for the baby that you know they can't get out of. How are you going to bathe the baby? The cramped quarters and bathroom configuration is what convinced us to sell our truck & camper in favor of a trailer. We are convinced that a 25' Safari will work well for us as soon as our son is out of the "terrible twos".
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Old 10-05-2003, 11:31 AM   #3
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I used to tow my 25' Safari with a 5.3 litre with 3:73 rear gears and it worked quite well in the flat lands but in the mountains I experienced two problems. Lack of power at the higher altitudes and the rearend became quite hot when pulling long hills. I have since upgraded to a 3/4 ton with a diesel and it is a much better match.
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Old 10-05-2003, 08:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by gwsullivan
I used to tow my 25' Safari with a 5.3 litre with 3:73 rear gears and it worked quite well in the flat lands but in the mountains I experienced two problems. Lack of power at the higher altitudes and the rearend became quite hot when pulling long hills.
When I owned my 1500 Siverado I was told that the rear axle GM uses in the 1/2 ton trucks runs quite hot. For that reason I installed a Mag-Hytec differential cover on that truck (nearly doubles the fluid capacity and aids cooling) and had no trouble.

However, my Tahoe has a panhard rod running right behind the rear axle cover which precludes a differential cover with more capacity. I plan to replace my 3.73 gears with 4.10s before I purchase my trailer and may fabricate some method to pump differential fluid through a cooler.
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