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Old 02-01-2012, 08:01 PM   #1
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1967 26' Overlander
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Can 1990 1/2 ton 4x4 Suburban tow a 26 or 28 ft Airstream

We have decided to buy an Airstream and are curious if our current 1990 Suburban with a 350 would be adequate for towing a 26 or 28 ft trailer? We don't plan on going over to many mountains and will most likely just camp locally with it.
Thanks in advance for your help!
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:14 PM   #2
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Hmmmm..... throttle body 350? What rear end ratio? Towing package? Pull out your owner manual and tell us what it says for tow rating.

Is it the '67 overlander you're going to pull? Very different than a newer 26 - 28 AS in weight.

More info please.
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:49 PM   #3
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2011 27' FB Flying Cloud
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Suburban TV

We bought a 27' Flying Cloud last February that we tow with a 2001 Sub 4WD 1500 with a 5.3 V6 and the standard trailer towing option. Our Sub now has 123k+ miles.

We've been out close to 20 times so far. Although most of our trips have been up and down the coast, we have camped several times in the Sierra where we have traversed passes as high as 6000+ ft altitude. We regularly tow our AS, Iggy, up and down 6% grades; a couple were 9%.

On normal highways, in tow/haul mode there's almost no limit to speed, though we tend to travel between 55 and 65 mph. Iggy is an effortless tow, no sway and it seems as if it's on rails. Going up grades, we typically top out at 40 to 45 mph. The one time we were above 6000 ft, we crested at 30 mph. We pull over frequently to let faster moving vehicles pass. Seems to help keep frustrations in check and makes for a more pleasant journey.

I've had the Sub into our mechanic for a checkup and he says suspension and transmission look to be in good shape. BTW, I did install vented disks in the front to help prevent brake fade. They work great.

So here's my summary based on our first year:

The Sub 1500 handles towing Iggy just fine. We don't break speed limits going up extended grades, but after all ... we're on vacation ... Mileage tends to be between 10.5 and 11 mpg. Not bad on regular.

The Sub is very comfortable, quiet, and flexibly configured. I usually remove the third row seat to save load on the rear axle.

I think if we were spending a lot more time at high altitude, say like Wind River in WY, we'd pop for a new TV with a bigger motor. We plan to do some extensive travel a year or so out and that may be our motivation to getting something with more muscle.

However, for our use right now taking short-hop vacations, our Sub is great.

Hope this helps Enjoy the journey; life's a hoot!
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Old 02-01-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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One last thought. I believe the 28' AS has a 900# tongue weight, whereas our 27' has something around a 700# tongue weight. I believe the 25' is in this neighborhood also. I'd talk long and hard to your AS dealer about whether or not the 28 would overload your Sub. Check the specs and capacities of your Sub on the GM website. Other than the floor plan, tongue weight was a factor that weighed against the 28 in our choice of a 27.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudsummer View Post
We have decided to buy an Airstream and are curious if our current 1990 Suburban with a 350 would be adequate for towing a 26 or 28 ft trailer? We don't plan on going over to many mountains and will most likely just camp locally with it.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Hi Mudsummer

Welcome to the forums.

I like Suburbans. The first one I drove was a '79 and I now have an '04. I read the service manual for the '79 cover to cover and it was one of the first vehicles I did extensive service work on. Since the Suburban was pretty much unchanged from '73 to '94 I can comment based on what I remember of the '79.

The first question would be whether you have the 3/4 ton chassis, which would be the C-20 or K-20 model for '79. With this chassis I would conclude that you have a towing setup that will work although it would be underpowered by today's standards.

With a 1/2 ton chassis (C-10 or K-10 model) the axle size, axle ratio, and brakes are not really suitable for towing that large a trailer even if they have been upgraded. You could do it but it would shorten the life of the 'burb considerably.
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Old 02-02-2012, 01:11 PM   #6
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1990 1/2 Ton Suburban TV

Mudsummer, My 1999 GMC Sierra C-1500 Pick-up has a factory installed tow package which included a 3:73 ratio rear end and heavy duty transmission cooler. I was told by a trusted GM retiree that it will pull my '67 Safari 22' very easily and in the Tow/Haul mode should be expected to run standard highway speeds with no trouble. Using it to tow in mountains at higher altitudes might require different tuning but should not be an issue except for reduced speed when climbing grades. I have only pulled my trailer a few times but on level roadways it was as if the trailer wasn't even there. Remember that the older trailers are lighter weight than newer models and tongue weights are less too! I think your TV should be able to tow your 26' with no issues. Happy Trails, Ed
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:07 AM   #7
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1/2 ton burb

That burb would be the best tow vehicle you could get for a 25-28 AS.
Prep it by a good tuneup, make sure your tires are 10 ply and in good condition. Change transmission fluid and FILTER, as most shop advertise "flush" and leave the dirty filter in. I would add a transmission cooler from a reputable shop. A full brake inspection and if less than 50% use an upgraded pad for Heavy Duty use.
If you use a good equilizer hitch and dont drive wild you will put many comfortable miles on with this combination.
P.S. I think that truck had a reciever hitch recall for split welds...check it online or at your local dealer.
Happy Trails,
Patrick
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Old 03-09-2012, 02:26 AM   #8
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Suburbans are about as good as you can get.

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