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Old 01-26-2006, 10:21 PM   #1
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N/A , Missouri
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will i be able to get this home

hiya guys, great site. i hope that asking for answers on a first post isn't looked down upon, but i'm getting very close to pulling the trigger on a '70's excella 500 and i'm worried about getting it home. the trailer is pretty much going to be my stop gap living quarters for awhile. i want to go with airstream because they hold their value, and are just plain cool. i figure if i'm going to become trailer trash, i might as well have some style while i'm at it.

anyway, here's what's bothering me, my tow vehicle is a gmc safari, and the AS i'm looking at is about 1500 miles away. i've looked at the #'s and it's kinda close. the excella weighs in at 4800 lbs, and my truck has a towing capacity of 5500 lbs. the trailer will be dry and i'm just going from A to B. i realize this is not the actual tow weight of the trailer and that's what's worrying me the most.

my question, is this going to work?

getting this trailer would really help me out and it's a bargain(why i'm willing to go so far for it), but i sure don't want to destroy my van getting it here. i've actually seen a couple guys mention they've towed 31' AS's with an astro/safari, but everyone else seems to have v8 suburbans or 3/4 tons. is my van going to be ok for the one long trip? once i'm back home i will probably not move it much.

i'll be on interstates almost the whole way and will only have one area of moderately sized moutains to cross, not i-70 corridor type stuff by any means. after that i'll be going through the northern plain states and then south through MO for the rest of the way home. while i've never towed anything this long before, i'm very experienced with shorter trailers, so driver skill shouldn't be a major factor.

i've thought about adding a trans cooler, beefier shocks,and a wieght distribution hitch, to help out. would those changes make any difference?

any input would be appreciated.

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Old 01-26-2006, 10:36 PM   #2
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Hi and welcome to the forums. Asking questions is totally fine - I'm sure you'll get a towing answer quickly. Remember when you are calculating the tow capacity to include the weight of the stuff in the tow vehicle - including people.

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Old 01-26-2006, 10:38 PM   #3
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I just looked at a map - it's all downhill to Missouri - shouldn't be a problem!? You will need an equalizer hitch, brake controller for your vehicle, and the aux. trans cooler would be a good investment anyway. Most important, get a good sway control since your vehicle has a shorter wheelbase. Keep the speed down and don't use overdrive. Drive the trailer across a scale somewhere on the trip. Don't be surprised if the weight is closer to 6,000 lbs.
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Old 01-26-2006, 11:23 PM   #4
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thanks for the quick replies. i'm probably going to be putting a deposit on this thing tomorrow if it's still available. i just checked the specs on my van again and the max towing capacity is actually 5800, that gives me a 1000lb cushion.

trans cooler, brake controller and proper hitch will be done for sure(along with fresh brake pads and tires).
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Old 01-27-2006, 12:18 AM   #5
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Hi Crsdawg, Maybe Marc will chime in here but, I believe that he towed his Argosy with an Chevy Astrovan when he first got it. I could be wrong. ID 3ms75argosy if you want to PM him.

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Old 01-27-2006, 03:19 AM   #6
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just have it will be cheaper in the long run.
i had these great people ,the same people that do towing from the factory do it for me.$2500 from mi to ca
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Old 01-27-2006, 05:42 AM   #7
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I used a Chevy Astro to tow an Argosy. It towed smoothly, but wouldn't win any speed records. I installed a trans cooler and brake controller, along with the weight distributing hitch and sway bar.
BTW, my Argosy was a single axle trailer, and was supposed to weigh 2800 pounds. I rolled it across the scale and it was almost 4000.
You can probably tow it, although it won't be fun. Just keep the speed down around the minimum for the Interstate, stay in the right lane, tow in 3rd gear, not overdrive, and remember the trailer is both longer and heavier than your Astro/Safari. If you get a chance, see if you can change the gear lube in the rear end to synthetic, as it will withstand the heat of towing better than the organic stuff. You didn't say what year your van is, if it is a later-model one it may already have synthetic in it.
Also, if and when you decide to start towing it around and going camping with it, come back here to the forums for advice on a tow vehicle upgrade. You'll be glad you did.
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 01-27-2006, 05:45 AM   #8
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Gross Combined Vehicle Weight & more


Desi Arnaz is correct -- it's the safest approach. If you can't do that, add these notes of caution to the good advice above:

Watch out for Gross Combined Vehicle Weight Rating. It's the max towing weight of the vehicle and trailer, fully loaded. You may barely make tow capacity, but exceed this.

Be sure your axles, brakes, wheels, bearings and tires are in great shape. Replace them before you leave if necessary. Rig a temporary light bar if you aren't sure of your lights on the trailer. Tune your brake controller and make sure your sway control is set up properly.

Check the rig after 1, 10 then 100 miles, then every 100 or so afterwards.

When you're driving, remember that you have plenty of time to get up to speed, but your challenges will be sway and stopping clean. Drive VERY defensively. The tail will wag the dog on this one -- you are right on the edge.

Good luck with it!

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Old 01-27-2006, 06:49 AM   #9
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You could rent a tow vehicle from National or check out the web for companies that rent tow vehicles. This may be cheaper than paying $2500.00 to have it hauled.
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Old 01-27-2006, 08:58 AM   #10
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Astro power...

ahhh - had two of them (last one I put a V8 into... still sold it). I'd check carefully what gears you have in it - 1500 miles is still a bit to go. You want AT MINIMUM 3.73's, better 4.11's.

It will do it, but only with one light passenger, nothing in the trailer (tanks empty) and with the following as minimum. I pulled our 26ft Argosy with it, it did do remarkably well, but I only did short distances.

Tranny cooler is a must! These 4L60E tranny's hate heat. Don't pull in OD!! I'd seriously change the engine oil, tranny oil, and rear end diff oil prior to the trip. I'd also budget for a rear end bearing rebuild (anywhere from $500-1000 depending on the shop). These rear ends are weak, and it will be sooner, not later after that trip that you'll hear that ghostly howl from the rear end (pinion bearing failure). That's why you MUST change the oil pre-and post trip in the pumpkin (synthetics are better too).

Air up your tires to the max sidewall inflation pressure - in the Astro and the trailer (I did put low profile tires on... decreased the sway too).

Again, weight distribution and sway control are a must. I'd also make sure your brakes are fairly new. Astro brakes are not the strongest. Make sure the trailer brakes work and are set up well too - that trailer is heavy! I'm sure it will probably be closer (this is a 28ft'r, no?) to 5500-6000 on the scales.

Gear down on the hills, and take your time.

Let us know how your trip goes! I'd like to see pics when you get back.
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Old 01-27-2006, 09:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by crsdawg question, is this going to work? ....any input would be appreciated.
Please check out other threads here in the Forums prior to making your trip to pick up your baby...

Search, for instance, "Repack Bearings", "Age of Tires", "Service Brakes", "Trailer Tow Vehicle Lighting Connection"...and many more, including variations of the above.

Tires, brakes, bearings, lighting interface and weight distribution/sway control all take time to install and adjust and involve various degrees of cost.

Sometimes it really does make sense to contract a commercial hauler.

I recently had a dedicated load (full use of a Landall trailer and tractor) hauled from Iowa to Texas for $1.75 per mile - all I had to do was set it up over the phone and show up with a check when the driver offloaded the haul. No lost vacation days, no gas money, no worrying about tires, brakes, lights, back breaks, or heart aches....

When I picked up the '78 Sovereign in Ohio (see the tow hook-up in my avatar), my honest all-in expenses (food, fuel, and lodging, not including wear and tear on my one-ton Ford Cabriolet tow vehicle) were right at a grand - and the 2,500 mile round trip took right at 6 days - including a morning at a Mega Lo Mart in the rain/sleet/drizzle trying to figure out just what the PO had done to the light/brake wiring system since everything seemed to be shorted out.

1250 miles X $1.75 per mile = $2,200
Direct costs for my round trip were $1,000

To get a commercial hauler to bring it down would have cost me only $1,200 more than doing it myself....

Results may vary....

"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

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Old 01-27-2006, 09:49 AM   #12
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Personally, if you are just going to tow it and park it for a while, I would opt for renting a tow vehicle. Better to have a sufficient tow vehicle and put the wear and tear on someone else's vehicle than to risk damage to yours after spending what may be close to $1000 getting your brakes and drive train ready. I would think a week's rental on a 1/2 ton truck would be less expensive and safer too. Just my .02.
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Old 01-27-2006, 10:11 AM   #13
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I didn't get the year of your tow vehicle, but I used to tow with a '91 Chevy Astro Ext van. It had a 4.10 axle, a premium gas V6, and the factory towing package that was rated for 6,000 lbs. I used to pull a 28' aluminum framed SOB that probably was about 4,800 lbs.

Bottom line the Astro towing in 3rd had plenty of power to pull the trailer. I wasn't in love with the handling though. I did use a Reese dual-cam sway control which kept the big trailer in line, but to be honest I did feel wind and trucks that flew by.

My advice is that you most likely can do that initial tow, if you have good sway control equipment. Drive at 55 and watch your mirrors for those big trucks and give them a little room. I'm sure if I had been pulling an Airstream, the handling would have been even better.

The good side is the Astro/Safari is a truck, not a van on an auto frame. It can handle your new Airstream. If you stay out of OD, and downshift if you get into some of those Ozark hills, you will get there without damaging the van. I pulled that 28' SOB to Branson for a couple of years so I know you can make it.

Let me know if you have other questions.

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Old 01-27-2006, 11:16 AM   #14
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Another good thing about equipping the Safari to make the haul is at least when you complete the trip you can swap the brake controller to a more suitable tow vehicle, and you'll already have your WD hitch. So not everything spent to make this van more capable will have short-term purpose. Make sure the receiver on the van is rated class III or better (IV preferred). Doubt they make anything rated higher for a Safari...

Some of those clamp on towing mirrors would be strongly advised, too.


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