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Old 04-07-2016, 07:57 AM   #15
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1976 31' Sovereign
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Smile Towing

Originally Posted by ViscousCycle View Post
Well, as luck would have it that is exactly what we tow with, down to the year. We have the complete tow package. However, we don't tow an Airstream (maybe someday). The trailer we tow is I believe 3500 pounds with full propane tanks but no batteries or hitch. I figure once we are loaded up we are easily at 4500 lbs and more if we are carrying any fresh water.

I checked the payload for four adults and loaded up I think we are maybe a 100 lbs under max payload.

Also, we just pulled the trailer over two 8% grade mountain passes (8% up and down), max elevation 5000 ft, with the Suburban.

It made it up OK, not great. We dropped to 35 mpg a couple of times and the rpms were up to 5000 a few times. The good news is that the temperature gauge did not budge. We got better at managing the gears on the second pass, but still dropped to 35 a couple of times.

Here's the real difficulty. Even with trailer brakes, I don't think our brakes are up to the job. We started pulling over every time we dropped 1000 feet to let the brakes cool. Both Suburban and trailer brakes were extremely hot a couple of times (before we started stopping every thousand vertical feet). I was afraid we would warp the rotors, but we didn't. I used the currently recommended pulse (snub?) method of braking. I'm looking at the blister I got on the end of my finger from touching the rotor.

We were careful because we have had the Suburban brakes fade on us coming down other mountain passes, even without a trailer.

I think it was on this site that I read that you can upgrade your brakes and rotors. If you go with the 1500 you should do that. I assume 2500 has better brakes, but I don't know that for sure. I'm thinking about upgrading our brakes, but I don't want to do a lot of work on a vehicle that we might not have much longer. It's got a fair amount of miles.

Anyway, just my 2 cents. In general, I love the Suburban. It's a workhorse and very reliable. Hope it helps.
If your brakes are that that hot you are using way to much and it will eventually cook linings and warp drums or rotors. the common sense is to drop gear, whatever auto or manual trans. Big rig drivers drop gears and use jake brakes if have. I drop gears when on steep grade, almost never touch brakes and they last well over 60,000 miles. I tow 31 ft. AS and implement trailer and others with much more weight than AS, also I keep speed down when on grade. I have seen run away semis because they cooked brakes and not a nice site to see. Ps I have had drivers lic. 67 yrs. and truck lic. 64 yrs without losing brakes or heating up plus I started driving when mechanical brakes before hydraulic and powered as todays systems are.

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Old 04-08-2016, 10:57 AM   #16
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To Featherbedder,
Yes, you are right that our gear management (at first) left a lot to be desired. We were unfamiliar with the route and figured it out. We were relying too much on our brakes. We geared down and did much better on the second pass, although the breaks still got hot fairly quickly.

My main point is that the brakes on the 1500 Suburban might not be up to the job, because even when doing everything right they still got pretty hot. Better engine braking and heavier duty brakes would be optimal if OP has a choice.

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Old 04-08-2016, 11:30 AM   #17
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1976 31' Sovereign
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You are on rite track by gearing down, my suggestion is just gear lower, as I stated I started driving when only mech. brakes, could not depend on them so geared down rarely touched brakes as I still do today, but it means going slower down hill instead of max. speed limit.

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