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Old 07-26-2017, 07:46 PM   #1
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1976 23' Safari
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Caronport , Saskatchewan
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Need some thoughts on my TV and AS combo

I've got a 2000 Suburban 1500 LS with 5.3L and 3.72 rear end. and a newly purchased 1976 Safari . Blue ox swaypro with 750lb bars.

So far I haven't fully loaded the camper but feel like I'm skirting close to the limits of the TVs payload capacity and she sure squats more than I expected in the rear end. Payload capacity of 1800lbs ish. I'm working on getting my hitch setup right and I'm close but having some trouble transferring enough weight to my front axle to restore it. I'm pretty close and probably within 100lbs of matching the TVs front axle with no trailer hooked up.

As best as I can tell from visiting the scales. My trailer's tongue weight was around 570# with no propane tanks on the tongue and trailer dry. Trailer axle weight was around 3690# with weight distribution engaged.

On the burb with the weight distribution on I had the following:
Front axle: 2794#
Rear axle: 3850#
Total: 6644#

Burb's weight with no trailer or hitch next day (almost same weight inside burb)
Front. 2945
Rear. 3050

GVWR of the burb is 7000lbs.

So I guess I have two questions. Is the blue ox doing its job well enough? I was hooked on 8th link from loose end of chain. I can get the ninth link but have to lift TV way up to barely get there and still crank the handle with a lot of force. I'd probably never get to 10th or 11th link as I've read some users do. Even 8th is still work with truck lifted using tongue jack. Handles better with blue ox than just dropped on the ball but I'm not sure that the rear is any higher with the blue ox.

Second. With only 350lbs ish left to the TV's GVWR. I'll be right at the max when I am ready to camp. Truck still handles ok at this spot but I can feel it for sure. I'd rather not look for another TV if I can help it. What do you all think? I need a people carrier and 6 people plus space for long trips the Suburban is great. But finding another TV that has higher capacity and still hold the people with shoulder room is tough. Couldn't do a crew cab and really don't enjoy the feel of a big van or comfort of the bench seats. I'm looking into ways to lighten the tongue on the safari a little but beyond that I'm not sure I have other options.

What do you all think?
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:59 PM   #2
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Hi

First off, start with the TV and the trailer loaded as you expect them to be loaded. My guess is that you will have a bit more in both of them than you might expect. Consider things like food / gear for six people and water in the fresh water tank. It is not at all uncommon to find that you don't have any margin when all the "needed stuff" is included. Better to find that out sooner rather than later.

If it turns out you have enough "spare" load - shove 500 lb of gold bars in the back bumper of the safari and the tongue weight will go to near zero No, that's not a serious suggestion. Working out balance twice is a bit of a pain though .... better to just do it once.

Bob
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post

If it turns out you have enough "spare" load - shove 500 lb of gold bars in the back bumper of the safari and the tongue weight will go to near zero No, that's not a serious suggestion. Working out balance twice is a bit of a pain though .... better to just do it once.

Bob

I considered the gold bar route but if I had that much gold I wouldn't be concerned about the TV. I'd just buy a new one.... or maybe buy the campground and park the airstream permanently. No need for the Tow vehicle then.

Yeah. Need to do some loading of various things and then re-weigh it all. I'm sure it will work out to more than I think... always does sadly... hence the concern. It's a new world for me towing this size of camper. My last one was a teardrop.... that towed behind my minivan with ease. Took that camper almost coast to coast in canada and then some with the minivan and the whole family. This is my first half ton sized TV. I've used many chevy and GMC 3500 extended vans at work towing big heavy cargo trailers. Even with the 5 hours I've had the airstream on the highway it's already better than the cargo trailers and vans for handling.
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:20 PM   #4
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Eight from the loose end is the starting point for the BOSP. Likely need to add a couple of links to the preload with 750lb bars. At least one to start. Throw away the OEM wrench and use a long breaker bar with an extended socket to set the chain rotators. Harbor Freight has relatively inexpensive tools that will work for the purpose if you don't have them lying around the garage.

Next step is to consider what might be loaded in the center of the TV. You and crew should help to reload the front without as much weight transfer. That is why you want to do the balance with a trip ready load out.

Load all coach gear as close to the axle and as low in the coach as possible. While Bob's gold bar comment seems logical, a trailer is not a see saw. You want to keep as much weight out of the ends as possible after you achieve a 10% minimum tongue weight.

Looking forward to your progress. Pat
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:57 PM   #5
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1976 23' Safari
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Need some thoughts on my TV and AS combo

Quote:
Originally Posted by PKI View Post
Eight from the loose end is the starting point for the BOSP. Likely need to add a couple of links to the preload with 750lb bars. At least one to start. Throw away the OEM wrench and use a long breaker bar with an extended socket to set the chain rotators.

Thanks Pat. I'll try a link or two more on the chains. I'll have to find a way to get the rear end higher with some blocks and the tongue jack or I've seen a few people post that they drive the back wheels of the TV zip on some levelers to get hooked up. With what I've tried so far I can't even come close to hooking on the 10th link. Let alone the issue of the wrench. I've got a breaker bar already. Just haven't pulled it out to try.

Matt
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:15 PM   #6
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The w.d. hitch has to lift the trailer hitch load, plus the load in the back of the Suburban to restore steering axle weight and get the truck rear end up. The 750# w.d. bars look to be about half what you need, which is 1500# bars. Even then the B.O. may be challenged due to the substantial flexibility of their bar design.
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Old 07-26-2017, 10:19 PM   #7
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There will be enough energy to do some damage if the wrench is not controlled, so stay clear when you wind her up. You can roll up onto a set of blocks to help, but if you can use the tongue jack you will have a process that is repeatable without much hassle.

Good luck with your tuning. Pat
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Old 07-27-2017, 07:32 AM   #8
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Not an expert on this but from what I have read on this, you need to transfer more weight to front axle. Your WD system is not set optimally
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Old 07-27-2017, 09:52 AM   #9
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The first thing that comes to my mind is: What is the height of the ball with no trailer attached and the height after attaching with no weight distribution? I think your ball may be too low, which could cause the inability to achieve more links. Secondly, how level is the rig with weight distribution attached? A picture is worth 1000 words!

I've been playing around with ball height on my rig. Since I moved up to 11 links, my Airstream was sitting slightly nose high. I lowered the ball one hole (1-1/4") and again set the bars at 11 links and went to the scales. Now I have restored all my Steer Axle weight plus an additional 80#. At 10 links, I restore 100% Steer Axle weight. I test drove it both ways and still prefer using the 11 link setting as it eliminates the bow push.

I've attached a picture of my rig at 11 links with scale tickets from that picture. I'd like to see the same picture of your rig. The top of my hitch ball is at 21" before hitching up the Airstream and the trailer is now level at 11 links with everything attached. And most importantly, it handles perfectly on the road.

I'll be following this thread to share what I have learned from tweaking my Blue Ox. So far, I have found that the more steer axle weight I get, the better it feels. At plus 80#, I don't think I've crossed the line yet. It appears I am headed toward Can-Am's recommendation that more weight distribution to the steer axle improves handling.
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Old 07-27-2017, 12:54 PM   #10
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A standard breaker bar is not terribly long (12-18 in). One of our posters uses a piece of pipe or tube to extend the leverage. Often it is called a cheater. However, there are also longer breaker bars on the market and they can be purchased for not much money.

Using 1500's is likely overkill, but you may need to move to 1000's if the 750's do not work for your rig. However, suggest you work with the 750's some. They will give your coach a softer ride, which is better for the AS.

A WD hitch does need to lift the rear of the TV to transfer weight. There is also another factor in play. Weight in the ends of the TV and coach degrade rig stability. Consequently, when you load your gear, use the space behind the TV rear axle for bulky light weight items. Examples are aluminum camp chairs, empty water containers, and empty ice chests. The weight transfer can be augmented by locating some heavy items, up the the payload limit, on the rear seat floor of the TV. If you travel with drinks and snacks in the ice chest, that might go there. Securing the gear that you load in the TV is important as you do not want objects flying around in an accident.

One very important parameter is the stiffness of the TV receiver. If the receiver moves, the hitch performance is significantly compromised. Heavier receiver hitches are available from aftermarket folks and it is also possible to have a competent shop upgrade the existing receiver.

There is also the issue of considering stiffening up the suspension of the Suburban. LT tires, shocks, airbags, sway bars, lower springs, and solid bushings are all examples of upgrades that can turn a grocery getter into a better tow vehicle.

All of theses issues represent some level of compromise with safety, cost and vehicle use being the drivers for your decision process. Many improvements can be implemented when normal maintenance is required, as in the case of tire replacement.

Good luck with your setup. Pat
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Old 07-27-2017, 08:40 PM   #11
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I had a suburban, before switching to a express van, I always felt that it was kind of heavy in the rear, without any load. I did put helper springs on, and air shocks,made a big difference. Next time I will just use air bags, With an on board compressor. Oh I love the big van for towing ,hauling lumber, and people!
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:27 AM   #12
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Tow vehicle and air stream combo

Do your self a favor and get an Equalizer hitch. I have had eaz-lift, blue ox and now Equalizer. Equalizer is definite the better hitch. Call Equalizer and give them all your tow vehicle and trailer specs....they will tell you which weight springs bars you need. Shop the internet, you can save 100-150 by shopping.
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Old 07-28-2017, 11:00 AM   #13
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I had a blue ox hitch, I think they over rate their spring bars. IMO if you are going to stick with the blue ox, based on the information you provided, you need a set of 1,000 bars. As mentioned, the suburban suspension is soft. You might want to consider springs from a 1500 series pick up truck. Definitely consider 10 ply Michelin LT X Defender tires. The load rating of a passenger tire isn't close to the Michelin. If you haven't already, look at all the Weight distribution videos on YouTube. Getting the trailer level(distance from frame to ground in the front and rear) is important before you measure coupler height. Then (with the tow vehicle loaded) position your top of ball height on the shank so it is level, or slightly higher, then the top of coupler height. Blue ox directions previously stated you should set the ball height 1-2 inches higher than the coupler. They no longer recommend that. Now they say even or slightly higher. Measure the distance from the ground to the wheel well at the front wheel with no trailer weight. After the trailer is attached and the springs bars tightened, the distance at the front wheel well should be back close to what is was previously. If it isn't, you need to tighten the chains. When I had the blue ox I had to tighten the chains so the one and one half link was exposed below the rotating latch. I never was satisfied with the blue ox as to eliminating sway. Now I use an Equalizer hitch and I can run at 60-65 mph and not be effected by 18 wheelers blowing by me. Good luck.
Bill
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:36 PM   #14
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1976 23' Safari
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Need some thoughts on my TV and AS combo

Well I thought I'd post back with my experiences over past couple weeks. I've been out on two short weekend getaways with the trailer and have been pretty pleased. I've tried a couple different Chain settings and I'm experimenting with the hitch setup a bit more. Here's a shot of my setup as it is right now.

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