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Old 08-02-2010, 01:27 AM   #1
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350 vs 454

I've been towing my 27 foot Airstream with a 1988 454 Suburban 3/4 ton for six years now but the body on my '88 is done. It still runs well enough but I don't want to put any more money into a truck with more rust than steel. I've been looking around, and the only 3/4 ton Suburbans in my area and price range have the small-block 350 engine. I do tow through the mountains, but there are not too many steep grades and the maximum altitude I face is about 3,500 feet. Will an aging (1994) small-block 350 3/4 ton 2wd Suburban be up to the task? I'm hoping for a yes, since the 350 will be more economical for in-town, soccer-dad duties.
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Old 08-02-2010, 01:43 AM   #2
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Definitely not, imo. You need a big block in the 3/4 ton Suburban for a 27' Airstream, especially a 1994 model.
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Old 08-02-2010, 02:09 AM   #3
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Definitely not, imo. You need a big block in the 3/4 ton Suburban for a 27' Airstream, especially a 1994 model.
Hi, I think the 1994 model was referring to the Suburban, the trailer is a 1972. The older trailers are lighter. But going from a 454 to a 350 you might be dissappointed in power.
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Old 08-02-2010, 06:03 AM   #4
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Hi Rob

Over the years and currently we have hundreds of customers that tow 34 Airstreams all over the continent with Suburbans with 350 engines. There are some hills that you now climb in drive that you will need to climb in second gear. However you will never save enough time on hills to make up for the extra time you spend in gas stations running a 454.

Something that improves these trucks a great deal is to change the tires to 225/75R x 16" LT Load Range "D" or "e" tires. These tires steer with more precision have less rolling resistance and will give you another mile per gallon.

A 1/2 ton suburban will work fine for you as well the ride is much smoother for both you and the Airstream. The key to the 1/2 ton is to install the 225 LT tires and good shocks such as bilstiens or Munroe's. With these installed the handling is as stable as the 3/4. The 1/2 ton does have a little better transmission ratios than a 3/4.

What hitch system are you using?

Andrew T
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:16 AM   #5
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Hi, I think the 1994 model was referring to the Suburban, the trailer is a 1972. The older trailers are lighter. But going from a 454 to a 350 you might be dissappointed in power.
I was referring to the Suburban, not the trailer. I had a 1995 model with the 350 and it struggled to move itself.
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Old 08-02-2010, 01:40 PM   #6
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I have towed a 73 Sovereign with a 350. A little slow on some hills but not a big deal. Another big factor is the rear end gearing. With a torquey rear end you could climb a wall but will lucky to hit 65 mph. Not enough torque and your tranny will be switching all over the map. I agree you don't necessarily need a 3/4 ton.
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Old 08-02-2010, 03:56 PM   #7
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350 vs 454

Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeSpoon View Post
I was referring to the Suburban, not the trailer. I had a 1995 model with the 350 and it struggled to move itself.
I agree! My 1995 K1500 with 3.73 gears was an absolute nightmare in the mountains when hitched to my Overlander, and was just barely adequate solo. I generally keep my vehicles for a couple of decades - - but I was ready to move that truck on at 3 years and 48,000 miles as it was not capable of adequately handling my Overlander . . .

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Old 08-03-2010, 12:13 AM   #8
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I agree! My 1995 K1500 with 3.73 gears was an absolute nightmare in the mountains when hitched to my Overlander, and was just barely adequate solo. I generally keep my vehicles for a couple of decades - - but I was ready to move that truck on at 3 years and 48,000 miles as it was not capable of adequately handling my Overlander . . .

Kevin
Same here. When I bought mine new, I intended to keep it a long time, but after 10 months, I decided to take the depreciation hit and sold it. The power was severely lacking. I couldn't imagine towing with it.
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Old 08-03-2010, 05:43 AM   #9
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Hi Rob

Try and get a 96 or newer with the vortex 350 as it is quite a bit better on fuel and has way more power. In 1996 we drag raced a 1996 350 votex 4wd with 3.73 gears against a 1994 Suburban with an pre vortex 454 373 gears both had the same size tires. Both were towing 34' Airstreams. The 350 cleaned it and at the end of a 1/4 mile it was about 300' ahead.
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Old 08-04-2010, 05:59 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tips. As for the hitch I'm using, I confess to having no idea what type it is. Have a look.

trailerhitch | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:39 PM   #11
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I toed my 73 with a 5.3 2001 Silverado,it was a little slow on the mountains of W.V.,but we made it,when I got the 77 overlander,I went to the 6.0 Silverado. Dave
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Old 08-04-2010, 06:45 PM   #12
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Ford Triton

My Triton seems to have more guts compared to a similar displacement Chevy. What do you think?
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:09 PM   #13
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I've got a 99 Tahoe with 350. Have not pulled the Airstream with it but as a comparison I have pulled my tandem axle 19 Ft. Basscat boat with it and with my 4.7 Liter Tundra. In t the Tahoe you know are pulling a load with the boat while in the truck I can hardly notice it. May be more an issue of rear end gearing, but my Tahoe is weak in the pulling department.
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:38 PM   #14
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I've never heard any good stories about the 454, other than you can cook your dinner real quick on those red hot exhaust manifolds.
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