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Old 01-15-2004, 08:36 AM   #1
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Is my math right?

Greetings. I'm a wannabe trying to find the right AS for my Suburban.

The Suburban is a C-1500 (2WD) with 5300 engine and 3.73 axle. My Owner's Manual shows the max. trailer weight to be 8,100 lbs.

Using the 70% - 80% rule that's often mentioned on this forum, my usable trailer weight would be between 5,670 and 6,480 lbs.

If my numbers are correct, I can't safely tow even the smallest "Classic," as the Airstream web site shows the Classic 25' UBW is 6,050 lbs. and the GVMR is 7,300 lbs.

The "Safari" 25' with a UBW of 4,920 lbs. and GVWR of 6,300 lbs. appears to be the largest AS towable with my Suburban.

Is this correct, or have I made an error? Any thoughts will be much appreciated.

Sam
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:14 AM   #2
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your math looks ok sam. i havent checked out your, to busy spending money on my bubble, sources but do know airstreams are getting heavy. my "classc" weighs in under 2000lb equiped. and my previous and newer " classic" a 67 caravell weighed in about the same. maby one of the older "classics" is what you need to look at. i'm really surprised at the weight of the newer rigs. roger n cindy
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:23 AM   #3
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Sam,
Math is correct.
The Suburbans mostly associated with Airstreams are the 2500 series with the big block 456 engine and a 4.11 rear.
Wish we could be more encouraging.
Dick
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:26 AM   #4
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Better stick with the Safari

I formerly towed a 5000# International with my 5.3L Z71 Silverado. I felt the International was about all I wanted to tow in the mountains with that truck. I did add a Banks system which really improved performance.

I'm currently towing a 25' Classic with the Duramax diesel and feel that it is a very good match. I would not have liked to tow the Classic with the 5.3L.

The 5.3L develops its torque at pretty high RPMs and required a lot of downshifting. I ran it in 3rd gear with tow/haul mode engaged. It didn't take much of a hill to require a downshift. Accelleration uphill from a stop required a lot of engine screaming.
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:27 AM   #5
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Sam,

Your math looks like it's in the ballpark. For your reference, I have a 2003 Sierra with a 6.0 engine and 3.73 axle and I can comfortably tow the 28' International CCD. There is no way that the truck could handle any more weight on a consistent basis. I hope that helps a little.
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:43 AM   #6
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The 6.0 engine ...

is a different beast. Not only the additional CCs, but it is tuned in the truck version for a bit lower HP and a lot more low-end torque. I have a friend who tows a 34' A/S with a 6.0 and a 4.10 rear end; he reports very good performance.
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Old 01-15-2004, 10:29 AM   #7
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Sam,

I agree that you are in the ballpark.

However.....

If you'd like to tow in the 7-8k range with little to no worry, I think you could easily do it with minimal expense by simply installing 4.10 gears or better. Of course you would also need the computer re-programmed. This would be in place of getting a different tow vehicle.

Of course the standard disclaimer of not to exceed the vehicles tow rating apply and I am assuming that the current Suburban you have has all the heavy duty cooling, trailer packages, etc.

I know you can do it. I know some folks might not agree, but let me just say that I have installed 3.73 gears into my 5.7L Chevy sedan. Stock the car came with 2.93s and was rated at 5000lbs. Now I feel the car can and does easily tow my 6300lb gross Safari (but in reality, it's only most likely topping the scales about 6100lbs).

You can get your computer reflashed by this person...he does stunning work and can also adjust the torque converter lockup should your Suburban not have the tow haul feature. His name is Bryan Herter and you can find him at www.pcmforless.com I've used him 2x now with very, very positive results.

Eric
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Old 01-15-2004, 10:58 AM   #8
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Many thanks for the support.

Seems that we've arrived at a decision point: find a trailer we like that our Suburban will tow, or trade it for a 2500. I hesitate to modify the current Suburban because it has 60,000 miles.

Again, I appreciate all of your responses.

Sam
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Old 01-15-2004, 11:24 AM   #9
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Good decision. Changing gears will help performance but does not increase the tow rating. The brakes, frame, springs and axle are also critical and can be expensive to repair.

John
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:37 PM   #10
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Cool On the right track...

I think you on the right track on changing your tow vehicle or going with a smaller trailer.

I went through this already. I had a '98 Ford Expedition that we towed our '71 Safari 3500#s.

We were fine in the flat areas but we like to go to the mountains a lot and the Expedition was not up to the task. I had the petal to the floor in second gear on going 20mph.

Felt that if I kept this up I would be really damaging the vehicle in the long run.

I ended up selling it and buying a used 2001 Silverado CC LB with 6.0L and 4.10 rear end.

Night and day difference. Now I don't have to worry about what roads I take to get somewhere.

The Expedition was a nicer family type vehicle though, but for towing the Silverado is the real peformer.

My wife has always wanted to go to Florida and since we got the trailer even more so. But I would never have tried it with the Expedtion.

Now I have no more excuses

Good luck with your choices!

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Old 01-15-2004, 12:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by 74Argosy24MH
Good decision. Changing gears will help performance but does not increase the tow rating. The brakes, frame, springs and axle are also critical and can be expensive to repair.

John
Although I somewhat agree. Given that the vehicle in question is already rated for a full 8000lbs, gear swaps as found on the Chevy website support higher tow weights with gear swaps. There are few, if any frame differences in the 1/2 ton line or at least a difference that is noted on the trailering specs on the trucks. They simply state that the truck with the larger gear numbers can take a larger overall trailer weight. Brakes are not modified from the smaller gear numbers to the larger ones per the Chevy website.

Besides, I am currently doing exactly what I am talking about. GM rates towing conservatively. My Caprice w/ 5.7 is rated at 5000lbs due to having a mechanical fan and 2.93 gears. My Impala SS with dual electric cooling fans and 3.08 gears is rated at about 2000lbs. It's the exact same frame, engine (minus cooling fans), trans, body mounts, cross members, etc. The real SS has 4 wheel disc where as the Caprice has front discs and large rear drums.

Bottom line is that Sam is in a far safer place with his Suburban with 4.10s than I might be with my Caprice w/3.73s. Granted I would be very reluctant to take the Caprice/Safari combo through the mountains.

I think we all agree if Sam were to go out an buy a 3/4 ton with an 8.1L or a 6.0L or the Duramax, it would be better than what he currently has, however what he has is not all that bad to start with. A few mods and he'd be in an even better place than he's at right now.

Eric
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Old 01-15-2004, 01:05 PM   #12
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"Towing capacity" is an overly optimistic marketing figure achieved by using a stripped, no-options vehicle, with no fuel, passengers and cargo, and sometimes not event the weight of a driver.

Find your Suburban's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... probably on the driver's door jamb. Find the Suburban's Gross Combined Weight Rating which considers engine and axle ratio... probably in the owner's manual.

Fuel the Suburban up, load it with all the passengers and cargo that will be in it when towing, and take it to a CAT Scale to weigh it.

Subtract the actual weight from the GVWR and that's how much wet and loaded tongue weight the Suburban can CARRY. Since tongue weight is a minimum of 10%, you can divide the max tongue weight by .10 to find one measure of the heaviest a wet and loaded trailer should be (i.e. the trailer's GVWR)

Subtract the actual weight from the GCWR and that's how much wet and loaded trailer (i.e. the trailer's GVWR) the Suburban can PULL reasonably well on relatively flat ground. If you want some margin for hills and mountains, subtract the actual weight from 80 or 90% of the Suburban's GCWR.

Take the lowest of the max trailer weight calculated from GVWR and GCWR.

When looking at a trailer, ignore the tongue weight spec. It is dry. You're better off taking 10-11% of the trailer's GVWR.

We can sit here and make reasonable guesses as to your capability, or you can go get the facts for yourself at a scale.
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