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Old 01-19-2004, 02:27 PM   #1
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Can My Sierra Denali Handle a 30' Classic SO

Need everyone's opinion: Can My Sierra Denali handle a 30' Classic with slide out. I was thinking yes although it's close. Do I need the Hensley to be safe? Please, everyone give me your two cents. thanks.

Sierra Denali Max towing = 10,000 lbs
30' Classic SO GVWR= 9100 lbs

PS: I never travel with a full tanks, which would give me a leeway on weight.
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Old 01-19-2004, 02:44 PM   #2
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my buddie pulls a 29ft International with a chevy subran 1500 and it pulls fine. His trail weight about 8900lb.
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Old 01-19-2004, 03:09 PM   #3
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One more time. Towing capacity isn't a rating. It's a marketing tool obtained by subtracting the actual weight of a no-option model with no fuel in the tank, no passengers and cargo, and sometimes without even a driver, from the Gross Combined Weight Rating. Towing capacity also totally ignores tongue weight. There's usually a disclaimer in fine print somewhere that says GCWR and GVWR can't be exceeded.

Fuel your tow vehicle up, load it with all the passengers and cargo that will be in the vehicle when towing, and take it to a CAT Scale or other certified scale to find its actual weight.

Subtract the actual weight from the vehicle's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR usually on a sticker in the drivers door jamb) and that's how much hitch and wet and loaded tongue weight your vehicle can CARRY.

Note the axle weights on the scale ticket. Subtract the actual rear axle weight from the vehicles rear Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR also on the door jamb sticker) and that's another limit of how much hitch and wet and loaded tongue weight your vehicle can carry.

Subtract the actual weight from the vehicles Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR usually in the owners manual) and that's how much hitch and wet and loaded trailer weight you can PULL. Seasoned RVers recommend that your Gross Combined Weight (GCW) not exceed 80-90% of the vehicle's GCWR to allow a margin for performance in steeper hills and mountains.

This is the only way you will know what YOUR tow vehicle, with YOUR family and cargo, can handle in the way of tongue weight and total wet and loaded trailer weight. You know what opinions are like, right?

The maximum wet and loaded trailer weight is the trailer's GVWR. The published tongue weight is a dry specification. It will be much greater and depend on where you load things in the trailer.

Even with a Hensley, I would want at least 140" wheelbase with a 30' (31' actual) trailer.
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Old 01-19-2004, 03:35 PM   #4
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Maurice,
I am sorry if this is "beating a dead horse" but thanks for your reply. I am going to print your reply and take it with me so i can follow it closely.
How do you know if a tow vehicle is going to work before buying a trailer? Can't weigh the trailer if you don't own it?
please be patient with me as I get confused easily with towing numbers.
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Old 01-19-2004, 03:46 PM   #5
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I agree with Moe, check how much your truck weighs fully loaded, full of gas and passengers, and go from there. I had a truck I thought would do the job, because my towing capacity was within advertised limits. Wrong. It always felt like I was "on the ragged edge" as far as towing. The only way I could go the speed limit was if the rig got pushed out of an airplane. Then parts started breaking. The idea of all this stuff is to be fun, not suffer a breakdown every trip (nervous or mechanical)because you are at the limit of your trucks capability.
If you are looking at a trailer, check the GVW sticker on the trailer. Go with the highest number shown, because no matter what your intentions, eventually you will get to that amount. and maybe more. Tongue weight is usually 10-15% of GVW.

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Old 01-19-2004, 04:08 PM   #6
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Big Dee,

You will have to work this out yourself - no one else will take the time.

You cannot weigh a coach you do not have. You CAN weigh your Denali, and that is where you start anyway. Once you have that wieght, estimate the weight of your typical passenger and "stuff" load. Round up every time.

You now have the weight of your tow vehicle. Subtract that from the GCWR, and THAT AMOUNT IS ALL YOU HAVE LEFT.

Your dealer can get you the empty (factory) weight of your 30' SO. If the empty weight is MORE than that figure, you can stop right there - its no go. If not, you have more calculating to do. What is the weight of any options you selected? Add that. What about the stuff you usually pack - you know, that complete set of cast iron cookware, the Green Egg bbq, the wrought iron lawn furniture, that sort of thing. Add that - and estimate high. It may come close to the gross weight limit of the coach! Still got margin left? Then you're still not done.

Now you need to check the impact the tongue weight is going to have on the rear axle. The 30' SO makes that critical, as it has an extrodinary tongue weight for its total weight. This weight will go MOSTLY but not entirely on your rear axle. Your axle weight rating will appear on your door sticker. You can get the unloaded weight of the axle at the truck scale, but again you are going to have to add the weight of passengers and "stuff". MOST of that will go on the rear axle as well. When you connect up the spring bars on your load leveling hitch perhaps as much as half of the tongue weight will shift to the front axle. How much? Beats me - maybe someone can help us here. Now you have to check the load rating of the TIRES to see if THEY can handle the calculated loads.

And after all that, leave yourself a margin for comfort - say 20%

Frankly, I don't think you have a chance. I think you will need a one ton chassis to handle the tongue weight. Just a guess.

Mark
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Old 01-19-2004, 04:23 PM   #7
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I apologize if it sounded like I was upset at you, Big Dee. I get upset at the number of buyers misled by manufacturers. Publishing "towing capacity" should be against the law, and all vehicles sold with the potential of towing should be required to list their actual weight with a full fuel tank and some weight for passengers, on a window sticker. That sticker should also list the maximum tongue/pin weight and trailer weight THAT particular vehicle can handle, with a full tank and that passenger allowance, without exceeding ratings.

The other "spec" that misleads buyers is the trailer dry total and tongue weights. The ones published on the brochures and web don't even include factory options, although the sticker inside should, but sometimes doesn't. The one in my Limited accounts for 60 pounds of propane, but the Limited includes 40 lb tanks. They certainly don't include dealer-installed options.

Savvy buyers use the trailer GVWR, which may be realistic with the limited cargo capacity of Airstreams, but can be overkill on some SOBs, where the GVWR is 3,000-4,000 pounds above the actual weight, and the buyer will never put more than 1500-2000 lbs in them.

Dry tongue weight, even as a percentage of dry actual weight, doesn't tell the whole story. You have to look at the floorplan and see where the storage is relative to the axles, figure out where the tanks are relative to the axles, and decide where you're going to put heavy vs light cargo. It's better to take 10-12% of the trailer GVWR for non-slide trailers and 13-15% of front slide trailers as an estimate. Trying to estimate the pin weight of a fiver can be a real challenge.

Hope this helps,
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Old 01-19-2004, 04:46 PM   #8
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When you drop the trailer tongue on the hitch, the rear axle takes all that weight, plus hundreds of pounds leveraged off the front axle. When you tighten the weight distributing bars, you're mainly putting back onto the front axle that weight which was leveraged off it. You may also try to put some of the tongue weight on the front axle by tightening them further, but that isn't always possible. You also may not want to put much of it on the front axle if it's already loaded down by a diesel engine, and most of the weight of a 4WD or Crew Cab.

In the process, some of the tongue weight is actually transferred back to the trailer axles, but it's hard to determine how much without scaling with the bars loose and tight to see the difference. It's safer to count on the 10-12 and 13-15 percentages.
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Old 01-19-2004, 05:22 PM   #9
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Big Dee,

I do not know where you are in your calculations, but I can tell you that I have a 2003 GMC - 1500HD which is equipped with a V8 - 6.0 engine and Quadrasteer.

From what I understand, you have the same engine, but with 25 more horsepower.

I am currently pulling a 2004 - 28' International CCD and I can tell you that I have NO problems at all and can easily go up any hill. I am averaging 10 miles per gallon. With that said, I will also tell you that I wouldn't want to be towing a pound more.

I hope that this helps a tiny bit.

Josh
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Old 01-19-2004, 05:58 PM   #10
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Expanding on Joshua's answer

Factory specs for the trailers, all without options.

28CCD
Factory weight: 5745
Hitch weight: 887
Additional allowable weight: 1555

30' Classic
Factory weight: 7230
Hitch weight: 730
Additional allowable weight: 1470

(Airstream doesn't list the slideout model separately, so I'd assume these numbers are for the non-slide model.)

I couldn't find a GCVWR spec on GM's web site, but given the weight of the truck, it seems to be built on the 1/4-ton chassis. I recommend you consider either more truck or less trailer. Don't forget you need to get down hills safely, too.
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Old 01-19-2004, 05:59 PM   #11
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I am worried now.
I am dying here trying to figure this out. I want to run out to a scale and weigh my truck tonight. Maybe, I will. Anyway here are my numbers from door or manual:

Denali
GVWR = 7200
GAWR Front = 3925
GAWR Rear = 4000
GCWR = 16000

30' Classic SO
GVWR = 9100
UBW = 7877
NCC = 1233

options
spare tire = 60
skylights = 19
oven = 15?

I wonder what the trailer will actually weigh in at?
15% of the GVWR of the AS is 1365. Does this mean at least the rear axle rating (4000) is ok?
Thanks, everyone, for your help! And please stay patient with me as i struggle with this.
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Old 01-19-2004, 06:12 PM   #12
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I certainly do not wish to muddy the waters. However.... I have a 34 Limited which I recently towed from Oregon to Virginia via Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, Colorado Springs and the Smokey Mountains. I have a 2002 Avalanche 2500 4X4/8.1L Vortec with 3.73 gears. Averaged close to 13mpg. This is the same frame as a Suburban. I passed and was passed by quite a few semi's and I never felt a slight bit of turbulence.

The key to any towing is getting the tow vehicle as well as the trailer loaded correctly, which means leave the kitchen sink at home, and level.

IKE
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Old 01-19-2004, 06:17 PM   #13
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Ike

I'm curious - how did you do coming through the Colorado mountains - I have the same truck as you.

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Old 01-19-2004, 06:27 PM   #14
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Hi Ken,

I rolled along at 65-70 quite nicely. The tranny down shifted on the long hills out of OD. Engine RPM was 2000 in OD and 2400 out of OD. I watched the Trans temp which only showed the slightest increase.

I traded a 98 3500 Dually for this Avalanche and I can't tell much difference in the towing. I towed a 28ft Searay with the Dually 9200# but much higher and more wind resistance. Also 6 to 8 mpg with the 3500.

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