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Old 05-03-2014, 01:54 PM   #29
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Very interesting about the ratio. I'll check, or take some other 345 owner's word if I can't see it.

And about the weakest link, great point. I'll have to do some more research there but while we're at it, is the rust on this hitch receiver Click image for larger version

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Old 05-03-2014, 01:58 PM   #30
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Most of our coaches of that era came with a 4.56 gear ratio. I you want to crawl under the coach there is supposed to be a tag on the differential cover that indicates the ratio.


All parts of the drive train, the structure of the coach and hitch and the ability to stop the whole mess are part of the consideration. You can strengthen the weak links but you need to determine which link is weakest and is there more than one weak link to consider. Another point is the driver. Some think there is something wrong if you can't climb a 6% grade at 75 mph while others are happy at 40 mph. GM and Airstream take all the info and make what they think is the best choice for "Joe Public."


Jenniflow go look at a smart and take some suit cases with you. You will be surprised how much they can hold.

Since our 24' is a lot less motorhome than the 27, 31 or 34 ' I was hoping we could tow a Jeep.....and trust me, I don't go 75 in this motorhome. We also tow our 68 Ambassador with a Denali but we have disc brakes on the trailer and use our lower gears for helping to slow the rig down. That little tag seems to have disappeared from our differential cover and have not been able to get that number. I appreciate your posting here and sharing your knowledge. Thanks so much, p
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:11 PM   #31
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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Since our 24' is a lot less motorhome than the 27, 31 or 34 ' I was hoping we could tow a Jeep.....and trust me, I don't go 75 in this motorhome. We also tow our 68 Ambassador with a Denali but we have disc brakes on the trailer and use our lower gears for helping to slow the rig down. That little tag seems to have disappeared from our differential cover and have not been able to get that number. I appreciate your posting here and sharing your knowledge. Thanks so much, p

There is a relatively easy way to check your ratio. Find a spot that you can move your coach about 15' ahead. Put a chalk spot at the bottom of one tire where it meets the pavement. Now crawl under the coach and mark a spot on the bottom of the driveshaft. Grab about 5' of cord or light rope and tape it to the bottom of the driveshaft where you just marked it. Looking from the front of the coach the driveshaft turns clockwise when the coach moves forward. You want to tape your cord so that it will wind up on the driveshaft as you drive forward. Now it helps to have an assistant if you can find one.


Have your helper stand by the tire with the chalk mark. You want to drive forward exactly one revolution of the tire. Your helper can make sure you stop at exactly one tire revolution. Also your helper can keep and eye out to make sure your cord doesn't get caught under a tire. Now all you have to do is count the number of wraps of cord on your driveshaft. If you have about 4 1/2 wraps you have a 4.56 gear. a 4.10 ratio will give you just a bit more than 4 wraps and a 4.88 will give you nearly 5 wraps. As long as you stop right at one tire revolution it's pretty easy to tell what gear you have.


As for towing you ideally want to use your transmission to slow you enough that you don't need to use your brakes. There are long grades like the Sherwin grade north of Bishop on 395 that is 9 miles long. Using your brakes much on that grade will heat them up pretty hot.
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Old 05-03-2014, 11:16 PM   #32
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1982 28' Airstream 280
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Very interesting about the ratio. I'll check, or take some other 345 owner's word if I can't see it.

And about the weakest link, great point. I'll have to do some more research there but while we're at it, is the rust on this hitch receiver Attachment 211141Attachment 211142a weak link? Or is it just cosmetic?

It looks more cosmetic. Scrape the paint off and hit it with a wire brush. If the steel is fairly smooth with no deep pits or signs of metal loss you are fine, just give it a coat or two of good paint.
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:24 AM   #33
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Dan's right about the rear end ratio. I'm not sure of the cut off but I'd imagine a 28' and lower with a 400 tranny would have the ordinary Dana 70 with 4:10's, like a friends Argosy. Once you get to the 300's and up in most cases, other than the pushers obviously, we're running 475 or Allison trannies with Dana 70HD (4" axle tubes) and 4:56 gears. The Dana 70HD can be mistaken for a Dana 80 as they do have the same size axle tubes, as I found out.

As for the hitch, maybe have a welder take a look at it for structual weaknesses. I do know Airstream did put a towing limit of 2000lbs, but I'm not sure if that was due to the limits on the hitch, or most likely, limits on the power train, (strain on the engine, tranny and brakes), especially for 325's and up. I personally think that Airstream did place a 2000lb GTWR (Gross Trailer Weight Rating) on our vehicles but have not seen anything written in stone.

The weight ratings above or behind the sun visor are GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings). This is the maximum your coach can weigh with all passengers, freight and liquids, EXCLUDING trailers. Mine has a weight rating of 14,500 lbs, with the flooring out of it and a few cabinets ripped out with no freight, (clothing cookware etc). With a full tank and me inside, it weighed 12,850 lbs, the rest of my family will add 400 lbs. I still have to put a floor inside and cabinets so weight will be an issue.

I have never heard of a motorhome being weighed and taken off the road for being over weight, but that's not to say that the Rogers, Bulls or five-O can't do that if given the chance too. So when renovating, adding bling or loading your motorhome it would be a good idea for you to find a local weigh scale (garbage or transfer station, a place that sells rocks or bulk landscaping supplies or like I found, a local grainery or feed lot) and weigh your coach fully loaded…………I think you may be shocked at how much STUFF we can add.

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Old 05-04-2014, 12:02 PM   #34
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Anyone tow a Jeep Wrangler? I have a 98 with a standard transmission. I have added a Banks System to the MH. Thought on towing the 98 Jeep? The hitch has been improved as the prior owner towed a fully loaded 4 place motorcycle trailer.
Thanks,Kate
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Old 05-04-2014, 12:31 PM   #35
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Tony my 280 has the Dana HD 70 with 4.56 gears. I think all of the coaches with rear disc brakes have 4.56 gears. The rear disc brake indicates the HD 70. With rear drum brakes on the 70's coaches I'm not sure what they used.


The hitch on my 280 was pitiful. With the rear bath it gets pretty tight with the tanks just inside the bumper. There is a thread a couple of years ago on how I rebuilt mine. I still want to do some more work on it. The coaches with a center bath have a lot more room to work with in the rear. There are several threads of hitch work on these coaches.


There is a GVWR that rates the weight limits of the coach. There is also a GCWR which is Gross Combination Weight Rating. There is a chart in the Chevrolet Motor Home Chassis Service Guide that lists the 454 engine with a 4.56 rear having a GCWR of 19,000 lbs.


As you say nobody checks but the scale is your friend to keep you on the safe side of the limits.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:42 PM   #36
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1982 31' Airstream 310
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When we (she) decided to discontinue towing the motorcycle/trailer combo,
I started trolling the internet looking for my options.
What I stumbled onto at Craig's List & in my area was a Chevy Tracker. The guy had been towing it behind his moho so it came with tow bar, wiring, safety cables & everything but a braking system. 2003, 100,000 mi, 4WD automatic so suited for towing 4 down. A very nice vehicle at slightly under 3000#. And I was able to buy a Brake Buddy, also on Craig's List for $200.
Couldn't be happier with the choice. I have a back up camera or I wouldn't know it's back there.
It's my understanding that the difference between my Tracker & the Suzuki is that my power train is all GM. -------Pete
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:12 PM   #37
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It's my understanding that the difference between my Tracker & the Suzuki is that my power train is all GM. -------Pete
Au contraire mon ami. As a 2003 Tracker LT 2.5 V6 owner and lover, the only thing GM was the Chevy badge and the AC Delco battery. These rigs were assembled down the road from me in Ingersoll Ontario Canada at the CAMI plant. GM could never build a truck as well built as these rigs are.

The trims differences and levels were as follows

Grand Vitara had the V6, 320mm disc brakes and 16" rims with 235/60R16 tires under wheel well cladding, painted body cladding, mirrors, bumpers and power everything.

Next was the Tracker LT with the V6 but the 280mm discs found on the base Vitara, 15" rims with 215/75R15 tires, no wheel well cladding but body coloured bumpers, cladding, door handles, mirrors and power everything.

The Vitara came next with the 4 cly motor 280mm discs but 16" steel rims with a 225/60R16 tire and with the LT power package, but black bumpers, moulding and door handles.

Last was the base Tracker with the 4 cly, 280mm brakes and no power package, black bumpers, mirrors and door handles.

There was an XR2 package with skid plates I do believe somewhere in the mix.

The US base tracker MAY have had power windows but the Canadian ones didn't.

Mine is almost in showroom condition and has cost me less than a G note in repairs over the last 150,000 kms, however I think the steering rack is on the way out. If you had the V6, MAKE SURE YOU USE SYNTHETIC OIL AND CHANGE IT REGULARY. The timing chain needs good oil for lubrication, if the oil is dirty it will destroy the chain guides. If you hear a ticking coming from the front of the motor you need to get a timing chain kit with chain and new guides very soon. The motor is an interference design, so a loose chain skipping teeth on the cam cogs will cause all 24 valves to impact pistons.

Also change diff and transfer case oil with some Amsoil severe gear oil. It does call for 80 weight for the diffs but the 75 weight of the Amsoil is just fine. The original spec oil for the transfer case is 75 weight. This is very easy project for you as all diffs and transfer case have drain plugs. DRAIN PLUGS, a 10 cent part that seems to elude GM, Ford and Chrysler.

Whatever you do DON'T take your rig to a Chevy dealer as he will not have any parts, or will charge you an arm and leg for what parts he has. None of the mechanics at my local GM dealer have a clue on how to work on these great trucks. I have allways taken my rig to the local Suzuki dealer for scheduled maintenance that I couldn't do myself.

Suzuki unfortunately has bailed on NA, but some of the dealers are still working on these rigs as warranty service centres and supplying parts for them.

I have thought of using mine as a toad and did buy a US Gear braking system for it but have not hooked it up yet.

PS If towing the Tracker 4 down with the transfer case in neutral and you have the automatic tranny; you still need to start the engine and with the transmission in neutral, run it for a couple of minutes to get the oil circulated every 300 kms.

Happy motoring
Cheers
Tony

If you have any service questions I have the GM work shop service manual for that model year and it covers all Trackers 4 and 6 cal.
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:39 AM   #38
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We love our 2014 Fiat 500 L Trekking. Six speed manual. Fun to drive and tows simply (out of gear, parking brake off. Period.)

3,000 pounds, however. 30 MPG. Very roomy and easy to get in and out...it is high.

Since our motorhome experiment is coming to an end and we have purchased another Airstream, the Fiat needs a home.....interested? Six months old and 5K miles. Roadmaster base plate, Roadmaster Sterling All Terrain tow bar and Air Force One brake. Turn key. Perfect toad IMHO.
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:53 AM   #39
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I believe the 2,000 lb. limit is based on the hitch. My original hitch broke loose on one side while towing a bass boat luckily I was doing 20 miles per hour going through a small town. I have since replaced this hitch with a 10,000 lb. one and tow a 1999 Jeep Wrangler or a large Fiberglass Open Bow Boat depending on the situation and don't know they are even back there.
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Old 05-05-2014, 11:17 AM   #40
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From what I can gather, Gunner has it correct, the hitch on the Airstream Classic motorhome is rated at 2000lb. Have seen at least one thread where the original hitch was upgraded to tow considerably more weight, as well as where others have gone to a higher rated hitch.
I'd just like to know this. Who tows a new car behind their Classic? With all of us driving at least a 20 year old (some even quite a bit older in years) motorhome, I really don't want two vehicles that will require me to carry along extra parts.
Looking at Motorhome Magazine that lists towable cars, I'm more interested in 4-down towing, but really don't want to pay a TON of money for the car.
I've always liked the smart car, would truthfully want a 4-door car though.
No need for a Jeep, or anything 4-wheel drive.
Does anyone have the new Ford Fiesta? Chevy Sonic? Or even Dodge Dart?
Thanks, Derek
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Old 05-05-2014, 02:45 PM   #41
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Tony, thanks so much for the Tracker education. You make it sound like I bought a great little vehicle. It was either a mechanic or retired GM engineer that told me the drive train story.
I will service the rear end/transfer cases. Also I have been hearing a 'rattle' which I thought was under the drivers side, but goes away when warmed up. I think I better look in to the timing chain issue.
The graphic that I removed from the doors was either TR2 or TZ2. Mine is the V6 with power windows, mirrors, P215/75R15 tires & a very nice leather?/vinyl
interior & I believe it's getting about 27/28 mpg.
A wonderful toad--thanks again for your input--------------------Pete
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Old 05-05-2014, 03:16 PM   #42
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I'm a fan of the first generation Honda Insights made from 2000-2005.
Proven Honda reliability.
Three cylinder, 1100 cc, front wheel drive, 1800 lbs, and ALL aluminum!
Tons of leg and head room even for someone well over six feet tall.
Handles like a sports car, 50-60 mpg.
Capable of, and very comfortable at well over 100mph if you like.
Will blow the doors off your smart car
I owned a 5-speed Insight when I bought my used moho. There were no base plates available but I lucked into a Demco SS dolly at a great price, used it for about a year until, when doing some maintenance, discovered that the owner, who had built it form a kit, never hooked up the master cylinder to the line to the wheel cylinders: never had any braking!!

The 5-speed was quite a bit of fun, too, but finally had to do a used transmission transplant. The engine is just barely 1 liter, and it isn't all aluminum: the fenders are plastic! However, it is civilized with a/c, relatively comfortable, and it doesn't shift like a Smart & jerk you around. Test drive a Smart before getting serious about it.

There is quite a cult of 1st generation Insight people, check their chat board. I don't know if the automatic can be towed 4 down.

Motorhome magazine has been publishing dinghy towing guides for years and sells back issues reasonably, for 1.99 at Downloadable Dinghy Guides | MotorHome Magazine . If you want to tow 4 down make sure you look into the baseplate issue.

When I upgraded my car to BMW's smallest, an older 318ti hatchback, the extra 1000# was noticeable, even with Banks intake/exhaust on the 8.1, but never a real problem.

4-down has a great advantage with hookups: you don't have to lie on your back to tie and chain down the car to the dolly.

The PO had a Honda CRV behind it, a pretty popular choice, but I have been a Bimmer guy since 1990.
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