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Old 10-02-2007, 01:51 AM   #1
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Smile Advice needed on a 1999 BLACK Chevy Suburban, K1500

Hi Folks.. Ok, I just read several threads and have a delicate question, hoping I don't get too many groans... We just bought a 1999 BLACK Chevy Suburban, K1500 (half ton) with a 350 Vortec engine.

I'm looking for an Airstream, 31' or longer. Smaller just won't work for us, I'm 6' 7" tall. The trailer hitch says 500lb's and doesn't look like it has ever been used.

We want to buy a used trailer and really don't know if this vehicle will work. Incidentally, if it won't work as a tow vehicle we can't go out and buy another vehicle.

Can any of you provide some advise please. We're traveling all across the US and are way tired of hotels.

Thanks
Jerry
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Old 10-02-2007, 03:26 AM   #2
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Trade it for a 3/4 ton
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Old 10-02-2007, 06:46 AM   #3
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Jerry,

My opinion is it's one of those things you can "get by with", but you won't be satisfied with it. Personally, I would advise against anything bigger than 25', and even then, I'd want to change the ring and pinion (rear end gear) to at least a 3.73:1, or better yet, 4.10:1. I used to pull a 23' Avion (a heavier trailer than an Airstream) with a 350 1/2 ton Suburban, and it was marginal on power.
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:08 AM   #4
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Jerry, Welcome to the FORUMS. I am 6'4" and you will need to look at the beds in an AS trailer. You'll be a tight fit in most of the standard configurations.
The Suburban will be an "OK" tow vehicle for the short term. A "weak point" may be in the transmission if you are looking for larger than a 28' foot trailer.
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:49 AM   #5
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Welcome to the Forums. We're glad to have you with us.

A 1500 Sub is probably not a good match for a 31' foot Airstream. It could work for a really short trip in town or close by, but a road trip would likely be a very not good memorable experience.

The hitch receiver on you Sub should show two max weights. One is straight up and the higher figure is when weight distributing equipment is used. Check your hitch receiver carefully. GM OEM receivers are junk and prone to failure under heavy tow conditions.
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Old 10-02-2007, 07:57 AM   #6
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Welcome Jerry!

A longer AirStream does not make for longer beds...

Look for something more suitable for that Suby to pull...you won't be happy (or safe) trying to pull a 31'

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Old 10-02-2007, 08:32 AM   #7
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Jerry,

Welcome!

When I bought my 34í Limited in 1999 I had a Ĺ ton Chevy with a 350ci gas engine (your Vortec has a lot more power). It had the factory tow package with a 3.73 gear ratio. The truck had been well cared for but it had 165,000 miles on it. I knew when I bought the Limited that the truck would be marginal, and it was. However, I live in the Rocky Mountain west and pull a lot of steep grades. The truck did better than I had a right to expect. At the top of my long-term wish list was a new Dodge diesel. In 2001 I found a like new í96 Dodge 2500 Cummins that a widow had for sale. I bought it and it is everything I wanted and more!

Iíve never had a Suburban so canít relate to how they compare to a Chevy PU but I think what you have in mind is do-able, but not comfortable. I was experienced with towing (I bought my first Airstream in 1983) and had towed the old í69, 31í International for three years with a Ĺ ton GMC with a 350 and then twelve years with a Chevy 6.2 diesel Heavy Half.

If you choose to tow with what you have be extremely cautious and ultra alert to what is ahead. I got into a few hard pulls that I didnít think I be able to get over. Handling and braking were never an issue. I love what I have now. I never have to worry about grade angles any more!

Gene
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:04 AM   #8
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Hello Jerry -- Welcome to the Forums!

The Sub's numbers are fair. Tow capacity is listed at 7000# and payload at 1980# at Edmunds. The usual recommendation is that you not exceed 80-85# of either number. This pretty well limits you to a 25 footer in newer (heavier) models.

500# hitch capacity suggests to me that it doesn't have a Class III/IV hitch yet. Is the electrical connector a flat 4-pin or the round 7-pin? Anyway... adding a Class III/IV hitch will subtract about 200# from your payload capacity -- payload being the weight of combined vehicle options, humans + cargo + toys/pets in or on the tow vehicle, and tongue weight of any prospective trailer. (real life: 950# - 1000# for a ready to camp newer 25' Airstream)

Twin beds in Airstreams tend to be equivalent to long dorm beds. Airstream's floorplans show the twins to be 78". I'm 6'0" and I'm not using all the length -- I don't believe there is a full 78" available. In fact, I just measured my mattress and it is only 75" -- yes, there is a bit of space beyond each end but the twin bed platforms have a hard wall at that point. There is unlimited length on the expandable side couch in my 25' FB Safari.

25' Airstreams can have sideways oriented queen beds which don't leave any room for circulating around the bed. The 27/28' Airstreams have fore and aft oriented queens -- a nicer arrangement but the queens look only to be 75" long.

You probably should look at some Airstreams before you make a final decision based on tow vehicle or bed numbers. Best wishes in your quest!
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:18 AM   #9
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Is it worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by XpeditionsTV
Hi Folks.. Ok, I just read several threads and have a delicate question, hoping I don't get too many groans... We just bought a 1999 BLACK Chevy Suburban, K1500 (half ton) with a 350 Vortec engine.

We want to buy a used trailer and really don't know if this vehicle will work. Incidentally, if it won't work as a tow vehicle we can't go out and buy another vehicle.

Thanks
Jerry
Jerry,
There are many factors that decide on the tow rating of a vehicle. Accomodating the height of the driver is not one of them. The power of the engine (almost all trucks have enough power) the brakes ability (most trucks are grossly inadequate), the bearings in the rearend, the frame, the hitch, the springs etc.
Now, I know you are asking for experience here, and you can get a wide variety of answers. None, or I should say few would have the true knowledge and expertise to over-ride the statistics given by the highly educated engineers who drew up the specs, and the metalurgists who say what a certain piece of metal or bearing can stand, or the manufacturers who made the vehicle and printed the 'safe' parameters.
Now, I ask you, is it worth it to drive something and pull what could be a run away projectile on the highways because you say you cannot buy another vehicle?
I dare say, you could find a 2500 Suburban, somewhere, that the owner would take the same amount for that you could get by selling your present vehicle. And the people that you might meet (pun intended) on the highway would thank you as well.
Be safe, educate yourself, and go with the specs. Oh, by the way, there was a pic posted of a tow vehicle, that was inadequate, still hooked to the Airstream laying on it's side, after the driver lost control-it was posted last week.
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Old 10-02-2007, 09:32 AM   #10
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First of all Welcome to the Forum Jerry )

I know you're probably a little depressed right now after reading all the above comments but unfortunately or fortunately, we're all speaking from experience. As you see by my profile, I also have a 25 ft Safari. I had a new 4.7L (285ci) V8 Dodge P.U. had a 3.55 rear end with tow package. Last year went on a trip to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. A lot of climbing. It was July and average temp was 105 degrees.Now, my truck was able to pull 7000 # max but the poor thing was struggling all the way. Couldn't put on the A/C which upset the Mrs.

Always looking at my thermostat. In other words, a lotta of stress. On my way to Yosemite, I barely made it up the mountain when the truck overheated and just shut down. The good news was that I was at the top of the hill.

After the trip I started hearing a "click,click,click" noise. Make a long story short, I blew the exhaust manifold and froze a few bolts into the engine block. Now, your engine is a wee bit bigger then mine was but like the guys are saying, you're pushing it with a trailer longer then 25 ft. Especially if you get some other brand trailer, it will more then likely be heaver and less aerodynamic the the AS.

Not to make you feel any worse. I made the decision to upgrade to a 2007 Dodge HD 6.7L Diesel and what a difference.

Oh, the size of the trailer doesn't make the bed longer unless you plan on lying on the floor.

Anyway, the my 2 cents worth.

R/
Rick
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:22 AM   #11
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I really don't want to say this but you may be to tall for an Airstream. Have to test drove one?
You will need a larger Tow vehicle either way.
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Old 10-02-2007, 11:49 AM   #12
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We have an active member and former moderator here who is 6'5". He reports that his Airstream was 6'5" clearance inside (except under the A/C?); his new SOB trailer is 6'4" clearance inside. He did modify the front to back oriented queen and added a larger mattress. Pay attention to posts by 85MH325 in http://www.airforums.com/forums/f353...eds-28548.html and http://www.airforums.com/forums/f232...pad-24178.html.
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Safari-Rick
First of all Welcome to the Forum Jerry )

I know you're probably a little depressed right now after reading all the above comments but unfortunately or fortunately, we're all speaking from experience. As you see by my profile, I also have a 25 ft Safari. I had a new 4.7L (285ci) V8 Dodge P.U. had a 3.55 rear end with tow package. Last year went on a trip to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. A lot of climbing. It was July and average temp was 105 degrees.Now, my truck was able to pull 7000 # max but the poor thing was struggling all the way. Couldn't put on the A/C which upset the Mrs.

Always looking at my thermostat. In other words, a lotta of stress. On my way to Yosemite, I barely made it up the mountain when the truck overheated and just shut down. The good news was that I was at the top of the hill.

After the trip I started hearing a "click,click,click" noise. Make a long story short, I blew the exhaust manifold and froze a few bolts into the engine block. Now, your engine is a wee bit bigger then mine was but like the guys are saying, you're pushing it with a trailer longer then 25 ft. Especially if you get some other brand trailer, it will more then likely be heaver and less aerodynamic the the AS.

Not to make you feel any worse. I made the decision to upgrade to a 2007 Dodge HD 6.7L Diesel and what a difference.

Oh, the size of the trailer doesn't make the bed longer unless you plan on lying on the floor.

Anyway, the my 2 cents worth.

R/
Rick
I'm 100% with Rick on this one. I had a similar experience this summer. No AC, always watching the temp ect. I didn't have the damge to the engine he did but enough was enough. That tale is in this thread. Bottom line: make sure that your TV is beefy enough.
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Old 10-02-2007, 05:39 PM   #14
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hi jerry and welcome to the forums!

i have a friends who is 6'9" and he is very happy with his 31 footer...

a mid 70s unit... rear bath, mid twins and sofa up front.

yes sorting out the bed is an issue but sleeping cross wise works...

he and the family spend LOTS of time out-of-doors too.

with the 1/2 ton in question looking at 70s units is really the only option...

ALL 30+ trailers from mid 80s on will be too heavy.

let us know how where the search takes you!

cheers
2air'
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