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Old 03-05-2014, 09:50 AM   #1
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2014 25' FB Flying Cloud
Rochester , Minnesota
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Hitch/Tow Information Overload!

Hello all you genius Airstream owners!

I am new to all of this towing business and despite reading, what feels like, thousands of posts, I am very confused and would appreciate some assistance.

The TV I have (and keeping for now) is a 2004 Suburban 1500 4WD, 5.3L and 3.73 gear ratio. It is equipped with a HD auxillary cooler according to the dealership I just spoke with (according to VIN). I still do not know what constitutes a HD trailering package, or if it is equipped?!

Specs say (I think!) it will tow 7200 lbs. (possibly 7500?), has a payload capacity of 1654 lbs and a max tongue weight of 600lbs or 1,000 lbs according to the manual. No idea which! For safety, let's assume 600.

What I would like to purchase is either an International 25fb (max GVWR 7300 lbs and Tongue weight of 886), or a 25fb FC twin (same GVWR and TW of 837 lbs).

Sooooo, is this possible with a Hensley? Safety is very important to me and I will consider a bigger TV in perhaps 3 years, but not now. I don't understand what exactly the Hensley does for tongue weight, especially since the Hensley alone seems to weigh about half of what my vehicle says is allowed on its hitch.

Do I need to consider a smaller trailer? Anything I can, or should do, to the factory supplied hitch on the Suburban?

Thanks for any insight! Hubby gave the go ahead last night to purchase and I reaaaaally want to make this quick and painless for him as to not allow him to change his mind!
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:08 AM   #2
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2010 30' Classic
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LucaBluPlus2 View Post
Hello all you genius Airstream owners!
Welcome. I'm about 50 miles from Rochester. Perhaps we'll cross paths.

Quote:
The TV I have (and keeping for now) is a 2004 Suburban 1500 4WD, 5.3L and 3.73 gear ratio. It is equipped with a HD auxillary cooler according to the dealership I just spoke with (according to VIN). I still do not know what constitutes a HD trailering package, or if it is equipped?!

Specs say (I think!) it will tow 7200 lbs. (possibly 7500?), has a payload capacity of 1654 lbs and a max tongue weight of 600lbs or 1,000 lbs according to the manual. No idea which! For safety, let's assume 600.

What I would like to purchase is either an International 25fb (max GVWR 7300 lbs and Tongue weight of 886), or a 25fb FC twin (same GVWR and TW of 837 lbs).
If you proceed, you'll have to accept 3 limitations:
1) The vehicle is underpowered for that size trailer by today's standards
2) You will overload the rear springs if you are towing and also are using the rear cargo area and 3rd row seats
3) The 4L60e transmission, combined with a 3.73 axle, will work very hard and have a short life if you tow extensively.

Quote:
Sooooo, is this possible with a Hensley? Safety is very important to me and I will consider a bigger TV in perhaps 3 years, but not now. I don't understand what exactly the Hensley does for tongue weight, especially since the Hensley alone seems to weigh about half of what my vehicle says is allowed on its hitch.
I have a ProPride (very similar to a Hensley) and for a variety of reasons don't think either the Hensley or the ProPride are the best choice in your situation. With a longer tow vehicle and reasonably sized (25') trailer you would be better off with a simpler hitch, which will save you money and be lighter and easier to use. I would suggest the Reese Dual Cam.

Quote:
Do I need to consider a smaller trailer? Anything I can, or should do, to the factory supplied hitch on the Suburban?
I have a 2004 Suburban with a factory hitch (mine is a 2500 burb but the hitch is the same). The welds on my hitch were failing, and I replaced it with an aftermarket hitch with a higher weight rating. There are several aftermarket hitches that will fit that are a better choice than the factory one.

Quote:
Thanks for any insight! Hubby gave the go ahead last night to purchase and I reaaaaally want to make this quick and painless for him as to not allow him to change his mind!
Airstreams last a long time while tow vehicles come and go. As long as you don't have a great deal of long-distance towing in your plans you'll do OK. At some point you'll probably want to replace your tow vehicle with a more capable one, and for a 25' trailer there are many choices.
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Old 03-05-2014, 10:15 AM   #3
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Also, as an aside, the Airstream dealer closest to you likes to encourage people to use the Equalizer hitch. While they are OK, they are expensive for what they do because they are sold through a dealer network with the associated markup. The Reese is a better hitch for the same money.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:52 AM   #4
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Have a hitch shop (or your RV dealer) evaluate your Suburban. He'll be able to tell you what hitch class you have (3, 4, or 4/5), and may be able to reinforce it if necessary. I'm assuming you have a 2 inch receiver; if it's 1.25 inch, you'll need to replace the hitch.

Regarding the engine/axle, I don't think you'll have a problem. A good GM dealer should be able to tell you if your Suburban is equipped with max trailering. This option currently means vehicles will have a trailer brake controller, larger radiator, heavier springs/shocks (specifics may have changed since '04). The maximum rear axle weight will be higher than on an identical vehicle not equipped with max trailering.

There are many capable weight distribution hitches available for tongue weights in the 800 pound range. Sounds like you already have a Hensley? Excellent hitches ... less expensive alternatives exist.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:02 PM   #5
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I assume the HD auxiliary cooler you mention is an aux transmission cooler. These are not currently part of the max trailering package, but are standard with the SLT, and are options with other trim levels. May have been part of max trailering back in '04 though.
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Old 03-05-2014, 01:25 PM   #6
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2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
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Another MN Airstreamer here, my son and family live nearby and work at the Clinic.

Yes the Airstream tongue weight will add to the payload of your Suburban but would be fine if you load the Suburban lightly. We travel all over the country with very, very little gear in our Ram 1500.

I have no experience with the engine and transmission but the Suburban was one of the most common Airstream tow vehicles for many years. And you do live in the relatively flat upper midwest.

Your local Airstream dealer pushes Equal-I-Zer brand hitches and discourages ProPride (they don't get a markup as the ProPride is sold directly to you by ProPride). They sold us one, but our new ProPride would have cost less in hitch trials buying it right away. The ProPride or Hensley effectively extends the tongue length and when the weight distribution bars are tensioned, transfers a bit more of it's weight to the trailer axles than a standard hitch. So the weight difference between ProPride/Hensley and a standard hitch is not as much as it seems.

Of course there is nothing more argumentative than tow vehicles and hitches here, and that's what lends to the overload for new folks. My own method is to match the Airstream to the tow vehicle nothing too big or small, and connect the Airstream with the most effective hitch.

I agree completely with Jammer to get the size trailer that fits your lifestyle for years to come (within budget), and use your Suburban if at all possible to tow it until you need a new tow vehicle.
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:20 PM   #7
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2007 30' Classic
Ayr , Ontario
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A couple of articles on this:

Can-Am RV :: Suburban SUV towing Airstream

RV Lifestyle - Hitch Hints
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Old 03-05-2014, 04:40 PM   #8
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here is another article to look at

RV Lifestyle - Hitch Hints
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:28 PM   #9
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2007 30' Classic
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LucBluPlus2,

As you can see from my posts that Andy from CanAm RV has used the same vehicle as yours in the video. If you're up for a drive I would visit him (just make and appointment first). He made a believer out of me. The cost for the mods to my ML were about $340. That strenghthened the factory hitch. With my Hensely it transfers the weight to the front wheels very nicely and keeps the whole rig level. At CanAm you can test drive any combo of trailer. Even if you don't buy from them. It was worth the visit for me.
Goodluck!
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