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Old 08-17-2006, 10:22 PM   #1
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Buick Roadmaster towing Airstream help

Hi, We have a 92' Buick Roadmaster Wagon, 5.7 V8, OD trans, in excellent condition.
It currently has an oddball Putnam brand Class II/III hitch 400lb tongue/4000lb capcity. We plan on buying a mid 70's Airstream about 23-28 feet. My question is what if anything should I do to the car to tow the trailer? Do I need to replace the oddball Putnam brand hitch with a standard class III or will it work ok? What type of brake controller should I have installed? Helper springs? Thanks!
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:07 PM   #2
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What does your owners manuel say you can tow with your wagon?
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:25 PM   #3
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hi cookeville....

silvertwinkie, used an impala ss for towing...which is very close to the buick.

search his name, towing, impala and so on....
besides a w/d hitch seems he added tranny cooler, different gearing and so on....
should be lots of info.

i've always thought the buick wagon would be cool for towing.
sort of the anti suv. and a boat load of space.
there is one in my area heavily moded...
with a vanity plate...'landyacht'

cheers
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Old 08-18-2006, 05:10 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. What a wonderful tow vehicle. Air had good advice with the transmission cooler. I would think any good brake controller like the Prodigy would work for you but this is coming from a guy who drives a motor home. You will also want to get sway bars but maybe a TT person can give you better advice on those.
Good luck with your search for a trailer.
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Old 08-18-2006, 06:16 AM   #5
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Hi Cookeville,
Welcome to the forums. From what I recall of those Buick Roadmonsters is they have a self leveling rear suspension. You will defintely need to check the owner's manual prior to any towing. IIRC when using a WDH there is a process that needs to be followed. Good luck in your search and let us know what you find.

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Old 08-18-2006, 08:24 AM   #6
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I did tow both a 2003 19' Bambi and a 2004 25' Safari with an Impala SS, same 5.7L engine and trans you describe.

The Buick and it's non SS counterparts are rated at 5000lbs tow capacity typically when properly equipped and have the 5.7L. The wagons were rumored to have a slightly higher tow rating, say 6000lbs, this was due to the fact that the frame on the wagons, in the center section of the vehicle were reinforced to carry the extra load of the wagon body, where the sedan didn't get that more robust center frame section.

By swapping the rear gears to 3.73, I towed a 6300lb Safari and clearly the engine and trans had what it took to do the job. It did tow fair with the factory 2.93s it had as well. I did several other mods to the car to make it easier for the car and safer to tow. Towing in OD is a no no on these cars unless you get the engine management computer reprogrammed to lock the torque converter sooner than later. I had this done and used one of the online programmers.

The vintage units you are looking at I seem to recall weigh the same or most likely less than my current 2004 25' Safari.

I will say this, without getting deep into all the mods I did. If you plan on getting larger than 23' I found that in wind situations, the 118" wheelbase really started to show. When I towed the 19", it was no problem at all, even with the car bone stock. Jumping to a 25', again, the powertrain and driveline was and is more than up to the task. The wheelbase is what you are going to see issues with, and I tried several different Reese hitch setups. Nothing really helped overcome that issue.

I still have both Impala SSs. One to drive and one as a museum piece.

To tow the Safari I upgraded to a 2004 3/4 Suburban with 6.0L engine. Most of the time, I barely know the Safari is back there.

If you are really serious about using the Buick to tow larger loads, I don't recommend it, but PM me and I'd be happy to give you the list of mods I did and also help figure out what exactly you have based off the RPO code list GM placed on the trunklid/back tailgate. I put about $2000 in upgrades into my SS and in retrospect, that money IMHO after having been there, done that and wrote the book, I'd have put elsewhere if you go larger than 23' and over 5000lbs, unless of course, you like spirited driving with your Buick like I do with the SS. The LT1 sure is fun, expensive to feed, but fun!
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Old 08-19-2006, 08:28 AM   #7
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Towing with the wagon

Thanks for all the info guys. FYI: the reason we plan to use the Roadmaster wagon is because we have 3 little kids and due to my wifes back issues she cannot get in and out of a pickup/suv without help, but the Buick Wagon is no problem for her to get in & out by herself. I'd like to buy an Airstream about 24-26 feet with 3 little kids I think we will need the room.
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Old 09-07-2006, 08:57 AM   #8
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Hi,
Ended up buying a 1979 31' International. Easy to tow, going to have to do something different about my rear suspension set up though. I had added coil over loadlevler shocks. When I hitched up to the trailer the car dropped pretty low even with the coil overs. Of course the electric brakes didn't work on the trailer either, but still had no problem at all stopping or towing it 100 miles. Oh well, guess I'll put air bags under the buick.
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Old 09-07-2006, 09:09 AM   #9
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cook--you didn't indicate that you were using a weight distributing hitch?? It sounds as if your expecting to just build up the rear suspention of you tow vehicle. Even if you could this is a dangerous thing to try except on the very lightest of trailers. ---pieman
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Old 09-07-2006, 12:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cookeville34
Hi,
Ended up buying a 1979 31' International. Easy to tow, going to have to do something different about my rear suspension set up though. I had added coil over loadlevler shocks. When I hitched up to the trailer the car dropped pretty low even with the coil overs.
Cookeville,
Don't mean to be rain on your parade with bad news but, With only a 118" Wheelbase I believe you are far exceeding safety pulling a 31' trailer. Even with proper sway control and weight distribution. I'd encourage you to read more about wheelbase and sway. You don't live in a flat part of the country and wind will be your enemy.

http://www.rvtowingtips.com/index.html

I've referenced this link in previous posts itís not the bible of towing but will offer a second off forum opinion and it is not biased.

Be safe,
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Old 09-07-2006, 09:39 PM   #11
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towin

The tow rating on our 92 Buick RM Wagon is 5000lb with the towing package. I got the basics, new frame hitch/brake box/26000lb tranny cooler/rear coil springs. I'm going to add air bags and the weight hitch/sway bar. I towed it home 100 miles through the KY hills and it towed better than my little enclosed single axle trailer. I figure the Buick will be good enough for our twice a year trip to the state park.
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Old 09-08-2006, 12:43 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cookeville34
I figure the Buick will be good enough for our twice a year trip to the state park.
This is the statement that scares the hell out of me. Admittedly I'm not the best person in this forum to breakdown all of your exact numbers but before your spend a bunch of money on MODs for this tow at least let us help. I'm not here to prove you wrong I'm concerned for your families safety and the safety of those on the road.

From airstream.com chart
http://www.airstream.com/airstream/p.../weights-1.pdf
A 1979 31' International does not appear on the chart from Airstream according to the chart it was not available in 1979 so you may have a Sovereign or it could be a 1980 International... look for the plate on the side for this info.... With that said, your dry weight could be anywhere from 4500-4800 lbs not considering any equipment previous owner may have modified or added over the last 26 years... This also doesn't include water and propane and all of your stuff. So as I read it NO matter how you shake it out, it will be next to impossible to stay under 5000 lbs. and this does not even factor in GCVWR (gross combined vehicle weight rating) the combination weight of Airstream, tow vehicle, all of your stuff and the most precious cargo a family of 5.
So even for a couple of trips to the state park you are creating a dangerous situation for you and your family. So instead of berating you in this forum setting, I would like to offer assistance so you may see your way clear to a safe solution.
Regards,
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Old 09-08-2006, 12:54 PM   #13
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I tow my 26 footer with a 1993 Caprice Classic. I am almost finished upgrading my 1991 Caprice wagon for the job. A 31 footer may be too much for the wagon. Wheel base make a big differeance when towing and wind. I feel the trucks pass and have learned to keep an eye on them and ez my way to the right so there is room to keep the "sucking" affect from pulling me into them.

Please be very, very careful with the family. You can repalce anything, but them.
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Old 09-09-2006, 11:49 AM   #14
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On the rear of the trailer it says "International", the ID plate says its a Sovereign Land Yacht. Serial # is 0162. The body of the trailer measures 28'. I took it to a weight scale and it weighs slightly over 4200# with all the old appliances and propane bottles. Thats almost 800# below the tow rating of the Buick. I've removed all the propane bottles and gas appliances, so it will weigh even less now. We will be using new electric appliances.
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