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Old 11-30-2013, 08:56 AM   #183
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Originally Posted by rostam View Post
Car manufacturers, Airstream, hitch companies, and RV shops all advice against towing beyond your specs.

Please name another RV shop that advises towing a 7000# trailer with a modified minivan rated at 3500#. If you only have a single data point, your argument may not carry much weight.
The question presents a few difficulties. There are very few "RV shops" that post anything on AIRForums, let alone TV recommendations. They have nothing to gain and everything to lose. For instance, you wouldn't want a buyer of a new Airstream to be unhappy with your RV dealership owing to the TV recommendation, would you? Of course not. Likewise, in this lawsuit happy world, filled with disclosures, you wouldn't expect them to go out on a legal limb for no financial gain, would you? As I understand it, CanAm is a unique kind of RV dealer, offering some unique kinds of services that other dealers are just not involved in. They have chosen to make towing an integral part of their business, where others don't. I have never seen "slalom videos" posted from another Airstream dealer, for instance.

The more appropriate question is: Are there ANY other RV shops that have the towing expertise of CanAm which would allow them to make any kind of recommendation?

The argument against towing with these "alternative" vehicles is a paper tiger based on the manufacturer's specifications. The argument in favor is based on extensive empirical testing and collected experience. For those with any scientific inclination at all, the empirical testing results should weigh in far more conclusively than claims made on paper. If I had a rare brain tumor and one surgeon told me, "On paper the operation I imagine should work fine," and another told me, "I have done this operation 500 times and it never failed, " I think I know which one I would choose.

I think Andy's recent article in Airstream Life pointed out something very important: When we choose TVs we don't road test them for emergency maneuvers. His argument that a Chrysler 300 with a trailer will stop faster and handle better in emergency maneuvers than a 3/4T truck (see article for exact details) was very insightful. I don't know any "RV shop" that is working at that level of safety and testing. But apparently for some people, if your "RV shop" said to buy a 3/4T truck, that would indicate some kind of competence?
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:23 AM   #184
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Originally Posted by mstephens View Post
I think Andy's recent article in Airstream Life pointed out something very important: When we choose TVs we don't road test them for emergency maneuvers. His argument that a Chrysler 300 with a trailer will stop faster and handle better in emergency maneuvers than a 3/4T truck (see article for exact details) was very insightful. I don't know any "RV shop" that is working at that level of safety and testing. But apparently for some people, if your "RV shop" said to buy a 3/4T truck, that would indicate some kind of competence?
The Airstream Life article was excellent, especially because it does look at the numbers, comparing cars, SUVs and trucks and also comparing the weights when empty, loaded with four passengers and set up for towing and a family vacation.

Anybody who is interested in finding out what vehicle to choose for towing is well advised to read it.

The proponents of heavier trucks like to quote their towing capacity as proof of safe operation, ignoring the numbers that tell a very different story; like stopping distance (long), safe lane change speed (low) and number of accidents/thousand vehicles on the road (high, many of them rollovers). Looking at the bigger picture like this, the only logical conclusion one can come to is that the truck is the riskiest vehicle to drive.

It was also interesting to see that the car, a Chrysler 300, stopped an un-braked 30' Airstream in a shorter distance than the 2500 Dodge truck.

Of course, there is a point where all of the above stops working, and that's when, by choice or necessity, carrying heavy cargo or towing an extra heavy trailer is part of the equation. In this case, the only option is to live with the drawbacks of a truck and drive accordingly.
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Old 11-30-2013, 09:35 AM   #185
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I wish I had done the following discussion first with my 2007 Mercedes rather than after the trailer purchase and taking it home to discover the insufficient weight ratings in my car for the job. The things I learned here helped with the new tow vehicle decision.

Actually, per the Airstream specifications in their literature, The 2013 25FB International Serenity weights are:

Tongue weight is 833 pounds
Empty weight is 5,612 pounds
GVW Weight is 7,300 pounds

The 2014 Classic Model 30 weights are:

Tongue weight of 773 pounds
Empty weight is 7,365 pounds
GVW Weight is 10,000 pounds

The low ball factory specification empty weight of the Classic is higher than the GVW of the 25FB.

The dealership had installed some minor electronics for the television in the front along with a 150 watt solar panel on the roof, street side and rear ZipDee awnings and the Centramatic wheel balancers. After installing the Hensley hitch, The Shureline scale I had showed 1,150 pounds at the jackstand. The factory weight at the door on the certification label said the empty weight was 5,665 pounds which is a 42 pound increase in the factory empty weight before the accessories like the bedding, TVs and perhaps front mattress were in the coach.

The truck has a combined towing weight rating of 20,000 pounds. So the maximum trailer weight is the difference between that number and the empty weight of the truck, which with the factory truck empty suggested slightly over 12,500 pounds for a trailer.

The Classic 30 GVW of 10,000 pounds falls within that limit and based upon my experience with the 25FB, I would estimate camping ready the Classic will be under 9,000 pounds.

The Classic has a 54 gallon water capacity versus the 39 gallon on the 25FB. That weight of the 15 extra gallons of water will be taken off of the truck where we carried 18 gallons of extra water with the 25FB. I figured on the capacity of the black and gray water tanks being able to hold the fresh water supply. Both the 25FB and Classic 30 have the same capacity black and gray water tanks.

The factory 1,200 pound rated hitch had negative reviews with some weld failures where the round receiver support pipe was welded to the frame. Since my loaded tongue weight per the Shurline scale was 1,200 pounds, we replaced the factory receiver with a Curt unit rated 2,550 pounds and a 17,000 pound trailer.

While the door label stated a 9,600 pound GVW, the actual limits are the 5,500 pound front and 6,010 rear axle ratings (the Load E tires at the appropriate pressure have the same rating) as fas as the legal weight if stopped. I was towing at 10,120 pounds with the truck front axle at 4,820 pounds and the rear axle at 5,300 pounds. The trailer axles were supporting 5,880 pounds for a combined weight at the CAT scales of 16,000 pounds.

The day I purchased the truck, I crossed the CAT scales and found the front actual was at 4,540 pounds and the rear axle was at 2,820 pounds. Thus the trailer could weigh 12,640 pounds. I weighed the truck after each modification and now full of fuel it crosses the scales at 4,880 front axle and 3,440 pounds rear axle so the maximum trailer could be 11,680 pounds.

The untold hours of thread readings here point to this common simple procedure to verify will vehicle A tow trailer B.

Without due diligence at the scales, one is just guessing as to whether a specific vehicle can tow a specific trailer. Anything else than scale work is an off the cuff guess.
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Old 11-30-2013, 10:13 AM   #186
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Actually, per the Airstream specifications in their literature, The 2013 25FB International Serenity weights are:

Tongue weight is 833 pounds
Empty weight is 5,612 pounds
GVW Weight is 7,300 pounds

The 2014 Classic Model 30 weights are:

Tongue weight of 773 pounds
Empty weight is 7,365 pounds
GVW Weight is 10,000 pounds

switz is absolutely correct in his observation that actual weights are the best tool to use in choosing a TV. I've posted several times that the difference between published weights and actual weights are considerably different. However, I've noticed that some TV manufactures have dropped the Gross Combined Weight Rating numbers in the last couple of years.

I suspect a lot of 3/4 ton truck purchases were done at the behest of an AS sales person that lacked product knowledge. Again, I have to problem pulling a 25' Safari with a 2013 Grand Cherokee and a ProPride hitch.
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Old 11-30-2013, 10:43 AM   #187
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For sure r Carl.

By comparision this 327, 64 Impala would have had less power, only a 3 speed tranny, weak brakes and a shorter wheelbase to mention just a few of it's weaker specs.
You could get a 64 Impala with 3 on the tree but most had 2 in the glue. In other words the 2 speed Powerglide automatic.

Most likely with a 220HP 283 although you could get a 300HP 327 or even a 340HP 409.

These are gross HP ratings. To bring them in line with today's net HP deduct 15%

There were more powerful engines but they were high compression, high performance units not suited to trailer towing.
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Old 11-30-2013, 07:48 PM   #188
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It was also interesting to see that the car, a Chrysler 300, stopped an un-braked 30' Airstream in a shorter distance than the 2500 Dodge truck.
=================

A subject very rarely mentioned in towing threads. In the past two years, I have read a lot of towing posts. I can't even recall someone testing their stopping distance and reporting it. Or, emergency maneuvering. I'll take a wild guess and say that failures in stopping and maneuvering on the highway are far more often the cause of accidents than a "broken axle" from too much weight. Andy's article was a real eye opener to me with regards to actual vehicle dynamics instead of just weights and capacities. I have a lot to think about!
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Old 12-01-2013, 08:04 AM   #189
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I would hate to see anyone tow an 8,000 lb trailer which did not have brakes. And, no doubt with a weight transfer hitch and no trailer brakes, this would create such a front bias in the tow vehicle under emergency stopping there could be a jack-knife situation.

Even with my 40,000 lb motorhome, towing a 3,000 lb Subaru, I have brakes working in the towed.

My Airstream experience was nearly 30,000 miles with a 2009 27FB International, 2008 Dodge/Cummins 2500, which I found was so easily towed, I almost forgot it was there. With a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, power was adequate but the torque curve of the engine was not good for towing. The longer wheel base of the truck is also an advantage.

I would suggest that a lot of vehicles can tow an Airstream of up to 10,000 lbs, but the ease of towing, especially in the Rocky Mountains,e.g., is a primary concern. And, when properly set up, a large tow vehicle (3/4 ton truck) would IMO always be safer than a smaller, lighter vehicle such as a four door sedan or station wagon.
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Old 12-01-2013, 09:55 AM   #190
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Quote:
Originally Posted by switz View Post
I wish I had done the following discussion first with my 2007 Mercedes rather than after the trailer purchase and taking it home to discover the insufficient weight ratings in my car for the job. The things I learned here helped with the new tow vehicle decision.

Actually, per the Airstream specifications in their literature, The 2013 25FB International Serenity weights are:

Tongue weight is 833 pounds
Empty weight is 5,612 pounds
GVW Weight is 7,300 pounds

The 2014 Classic Model 30 weights are:

Tongue weight of 773 pounds
Empty weight is 7,365 pounds
GVW Weight is 10,000 pounds

The low ball factory specification empty weight of the Classic is higher than the GVW of the 25FB.

The dealership had installed some minor electronics for the television in the front along with a 150 watt solar panel on the roof, street side and rear ZipDee awnings and the Centramatic wheel balancers. After installing the Hensley hitch, The Shureline scale I had showed 1,150 pounds at the jackstand. The factory weight at the door on the certification label said the empty weight was 5,665 pounds which is a 42 pound increase in the factory empty weight before the accessories like the bedding, TVs and perhaps front mattress were in the coach.

The truck has a combined towing weight rating of 20,000 pounds. So the maximum trailer weight is the difference between that number and the empty weight of the truck, which with the factory truck empty suggested slightly over 12,500 pounds for a trailer.

The Classic 30 GVW of 10,000 pounds falls within that limit and based upon my experience with the 25FB, I would estimate camping ready the Classic will be under 9,000 pounds.

The Classic has a 54 gallon water capacity versus the 39 gallon on the 25FB. That weight of the 15 extra gallons of water will be taken off of the truck where we carried 18 gallons of extra water with the 25FB. I figured on the capacity of the black and gray water tanks being able to hold the fresh water supply. Both the 25FB and Classic 30 have the same capacity black and gray water tanks.

The factory 1,200 pound rated hitch had negative reviews with some weld failures where the round receiver support pipe was welded to the frame. Since my loaded tongue weight per the Shurline scale was 1,200 pounds, we replaced the factory receiver with a Curt unit rated 2,550 pounds and a 17,000 pound trailer.

While the door label stated a 9,600 pound GVW, the actual limits are the 5,500 pound front and 6,010 rear axle ratings (the Load E tires at the appropriate pressure have the same rating) as fas as the legal weight if stopped. I was towing at 10,120 pounds with the truck front axle at 4,820 pounds and the rear axle at 5,300 pounds. The trailer axles were supporting 5,880 pounds for a combined weight at the CAT scales of 16,000 pounds.

The day I purchased the truck, I crossed the CAT scales and found the front actual was at 4,540 pounds and the rear axle was at 2,820 pounds. Thus the trailer could weigh 12,640 pounds. I weighed the truck after each modification and now full of fuel it crosses the scales at 4,880 front axle and 3,440 pounds rear axle so the maximum trailer could be 11,680 pounds.

The untold hours of thread readings here point to this common simple procedure to verify will vehicle A tow trailer B.

Without due diligence at the scales, one is just guessing as to whether a specific vehicle can tow a specific trailer. Anything else than scale work is an off the cuff guess.
Switz, I have never trusted numbers. Too many variables. For example your 1200# tongue weight with Hensley installed measured at the jackstand is not the weight carried by your receiver. The jackstand on my Airstream is 29" behind the receiver when hooked up to my ProPride hitch. That longer leverage reduces the tongue load, possibly 150-200# depending on the trailer.

I know I have questioned this before, but if you would attach the stinger, snug up the w.d. bars, and place the Shurline scale under the stinger where it meets the truck receiver, then a more accurate decision could be made about whether the stock receiver is adequate.

And this is also minor, but it catches my eye and reduces my trust of numbers. If you want to know exactly what the axles carry, wouldn't you have to remove the axles when you weigh the trailer?

And you mentioned being stopped to see if your are legal weight. I don't believe this applies to recreational trailers; at least I've never seen a state weigh station requiring recreational trailers to pull in.
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:39 AM   #191
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Switz, I have never trusted numbers. Too many variables. For example your 1200# tongue weight with Hensley installed measured at the jackstand is not the weight carried by your receiver. The jackstand on my Airstream is 29" behind the receiver when hooked up to my ProPride hitch. That longer leverage reduces the tongue load, possibly 150-200# depending on the trailer.

I know I have questioned this before, but if you would attach the stinger, snug up the w.d. bars, and place the Shurline scale under the stinger where it meets the truck receiver, then a more accurate decision could be made about whether the stock receiver is adequate.

And this is also minor, but it catches my eye and reduces my trust of numbers. If you want to know exactly what the axles carry, wouldn't you have to remove the axles when you weigh the trailer?

And you mentioned being stopped to see if your are legal weight. I don't believe this applies to recreational trailers; at least I've never seen a state weigh station requiring recreational trailers to pull in.

Numbers don't lie..........................tongue weight does not magically disappear.Weight may be transferred somewhat with a wheelbarrow effect of a WD hitch but it is still there.

It is statements like this that get people into trouble.
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:53 AM   #192
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Without a WD system, the tow vehicle's rear axle load could significantly increase due to leveraging of the tongue weight. Conversely the front axle load will be decreased. These axle load changes will make most tow vehicles unlevel. The decreased load on the front axle can cause a loss of steering control and braking difficulties. The increased rear axle load might exceed that axle's rating, and the load on the receiver might exceed its rating.

A weight distribution system enables a tow vehicle to more effectively handle the tongue weight of a trailer by removing some of the load from the tow vehicle's rear axle and distributing it to the tow vehicle's front axle and the trailer's axle(s). Note - When the WD system is engaged the actual tongue weight does not change. Recommended tongue weight is from 10% to 15%.

Consult your owner’s manual to determine if your vehicle is suited for a WD system.


Several recent posts have discussed WD hitches. One member stopped using his because he felt it was contributing to sway by decreasing the "tongue weight". I hope the following will give a better idea of what the WD hitch does and does not. Questions and comments are welcome.

Example assumptions:
TV wheelbase = 130”
TV rear axle to ball coupler = 65”
Ball coupler to TT axles = 200”
WD spring bar length = 30”
WD spring bar rear end load = 1000 lbs/bar = 2000 lbs total

How the WD hitch works:

Spring bar tensioner pulls UP on rear end of bar and DOWN on TT tongue. DOWN force of 2000 lbs on TT tongue adds a load of 300 lbs at TT axles.
This is calculated using ball coupler as the fulcrum: 2000x30/200 = 300.

Now, having added a load of 300 lbs at the TT axles, we must balance the TV/TT teeter totter. Using the TV’s rear axle as the fulcrum, to balance the 300 lbs at the TT’s axles we must add some load at the TV’s front axle.
The lever arm from the rear axle to front axle is 130”. The lever arm from the rear axle to the TT axles is 65+200 = 265”.
The required balancing load at the front axle is 300x265/130 = 611.54 lbs.

Or, we can calculate the reaction at the TV’s rear axle by treating the TV/TT as a lever with the fulcrum at the TV’s front axle.
The lever arm for the 300 lbs at the TT’s axles is 130+65+200 = 395”.
The lever arm for the rear axle is the wheelbase = 130”.
Since the TT axles are “lifting up” with a force of 300 lbs, this translates to an “uplift” at the rear axle equal to 300*395/130 = 911.54 lbs.

Summary of axle load changes:
TV front axle 611.54 lbs ADDED
TV rear axle 911.54 lbs REMOVED
TT axles 300.00 lbs ADDED

Now it is interesting to consider what happens at the hitch.

DOWN force of 2000 lbs on TT tongue adds a load of 1700 lbs at ball coupler.
This is calculated using TT axles as the fulcrum: 2000x170/200 = 1700.

The UP force of 2000 lbs on the rear ends of the spring bars produces an UP force of 2000 lbs at the hitch end of the spring bars.
The UP force of 2000 lbs minus the DOWN force of 1700 lbs on the ball gives a net UP force of 300 lbs at the hitch.
The vertical load on the receiver has been reduced by 300 lbs.
The vertical load transmitted through the ball has been increased by 1700 lbs.

It is interesting to note that TT weight and “tongue weight” do not enter into these calculations. The WD hitch does not distribute “tongue weight”. It simply removes load from the TV’s rear axle and distributes it to the TV’s front axle and the TT’s axles.
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Old 12-01-2013, 10:55 AM   #193
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I see that you also agree that NO RV shop makes the same recommendations as CanAm.
When we wandered onto Can Am's lot about 15 years ago they had demo rigs set up for folks to test drive. First time I had ever saw such a thing.

Later on I see they had a Ford Mini van with an Airstream connected as one of their test rides. Within the next few years we saw Ford Mini vans with TT's connected for test drive, at various other RV dealers in the province.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Msmoto View Post
And, when properly set up, a large tow vehicle (3/4 ton truck) would IMO always be safer than a smaller, lighter vehicle such as a four door sedan or station wagon.
Most folks don't understand the secure and stable feeling of towing an Airstream with a Can Am set up sedan. It is something that has to be experienced.
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:19 AM   #194
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Since our new trailer is still vaporware (starts building 9 January), I will do the scale routine when I get it home. I have two sets of four individual wheel scales with control head that prints out the numbers. Each scale is rated 5,000 pounds with readout in one pound increments. I will be able to determine what weight each tire is supporting and if the new empty trailer is roughly balanced fore and aft as well as left to right. A fifth scale (one from the second controller) will report the unladen tongue weight at either the trailer jackstand or the ball socket if I build a support with a ball on the top to support the trailer with it's jack retracted.

The axles on all three Classic models are rated 5,000 pounds each per the Airstream parts catalog. That is how they are manufactured and sold. The bearings in the axle are supporting the weight of all the axle parts in addition to the trailer above. Thus the rating reflects the total load capacity of the axle including it's weight.

Properly inflated, the tires are also rated slightly more than 5,000 pounds (actually 5,380 pounds for two of the Michelin LT 225/75R16E tires). The issue at hand is the weight on the ground, so no, we do not derate the actual axle's weight from the equation, they are part of the weight on the ground. At the tire patch making ground contact, the rubber of each tire is supporting, in theory, 25% of the total weight on the four tires contact points.

So when I crossed the CAT scales with the 25FB camping ready and the trailer tires and their axles weighed together were supporting 5,880 pounds, each tire could be supporting 1,470 pounds. Each axle's bearings shared a 2,940 pound load less the weight of the two tires and wheels. The total trailer weight was 6,960 pounds.

So if DOT does a check, they put the scales under the tires to see if each axle has less than or equal load as compared to the rating on the vehicle data plate. They are looking at the tire ground contact patch.

Using the trailer jackstand weight from the Shureline scale means that I may have a slightly greater safety factor perhaps as contrasted to the other scenario of a support at the ball socket.

I took the fully fueled truck across the scales and got each axle weight and the total weight of the truck. I then took the truck and trailer across the scales. I had an increase in the truck weight plus the weight on the trailer tires on the printout from the CAT scales. Subtracting the truck weight unhitched and trailer axles weight from the total combined vehicles weight tells me how much weight is on the truck or tongue weight. In my case above, the truck was carrying 1,080 pounds of tongue weight.

Since there were weld issues reported with some of the 2012 Dodge factory hitch welds to the frame, I could see no reason to trust it at a load between 90 and 100% of it's capacity in a static state when parked let alone the dynamic loads generated when moving.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:15 PM   #195
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I would like to see a CAT scale ticket of a sedan/minivan towing a large Airstream in a real world situation -- 2/3 passengers in the TV, Airstream with loaded LP and fresh water tanks, camping gear, and a 200# Hensley/ProPride sitting on the hitch. I have a hard time understanding how you would not exceed the payload.
Check out the Airstream Life article, if you haven't already.

They took three vehicles to the scales. A Chrysler 300 passenger car, a Ford Expedition and a Dodge 2500 truck. They they weighed them three times. Empty, loaded with four passengers and their suitcases, loaded with four passengers and a 30' trailer loaded for holidays, including a full tank of water. The results make for an interesting read.

They then, for a 360 view, also looked at stopping distances, lane change speed, brake rotor size and other variables. Again, the results are truly fascinating. Stopping distance from 70mph, for example, is 164ft for the car, 202ft for the truck, safe emergency lane change speed for the car is 10mph faster than for the truck, 53mph vs 43mph.

It's a worthwhile read, whatever one's personal preference in tow vehicles.

Btw, my own personal setup, a 34' International towed by a Honda Odyssey, is well below the ratings for the van. With proper WD, the car carries less than 600lbs of weight.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:45 PM   #196
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Andy,

I've always been interested in your setup with the Honda. What engine and trans do you have? Was the receiver special made installation? And can you climb long grades in the mountains?

I'm still hoping to get more miles on my 6 year old Suburban, but if the repair costs climb, we'll be looking to change to something more economical. We're definitely open to the "alternative" world of TVs, like the 300, the Flex and so on.
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