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Old 12-31-2002, 12:16 PM   #1
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Modified GMC/Overlander combo - request advice.

Hello all...

We have been reading through all these posts and have garnered a great deal of information but still wanted to post this for some "seasoned" advice on our particular situation.

We left Portland in August heading for Indiana to see/purchase our 1969 Overlander. Our initial inspection [and lack of experience with this sort of purchase] revealed no major problems. My folks even came with us as they live only 150 miles from the seller. None of us found anything wrong with the trailer and of course it was beautiful. We bought it and trailered it back to my parents house in Illinois.

We were told the trailer weighed between 3500 - 4000 lbs. We didn't weight it ourself before purchase [I know...I!]

Because we were told it weighed 4000 dry we didn't seek another tow vehicle before leaving Portland. We put on a brake controller and heavy towing hitch before leaving Portland.

The trailer had problems - lots of them. We have been here four months making repairs, waiting for parts etc., etc...and are now pushed into the winter months with a trailer that we have since discovered weighs 5800 dry with a tongue weight of 800 lbs. [before adding water in the front fresh water tank].

We are 3,000 miles away from home, with several mountain ranges in between.

We have put a trans cooler on the van.....
We have Timbrens on the rear end [weight assist shocks, similar to air shocks but made of very dense rubber]
We have load distributing hitch 10k

What is your advice to us? Is this proposition even possible?

We have a few more repairs to do but the weather makes it extremely difficult now - we have to get south into warmer weather.

Really would appreciate some feedback from those more experienced than we.

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Old 12-31-2002, 01:10 PM   #2
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We need a bit more info to help.

You mention the tow vehicle is a GMC. What modelvan, size engine, and rear end ratio do yo have. All of these can be decoded from the VIN if you don't know.

This can help us to give you better suggestions!

Brett G
WBCCI #5501 AIR # 49
1978 Argosy 28 foot Motorhome

Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something. -- Plato

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Old 12-31-2002, 05:22 PM   #3
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Please forgive.... I had all that info in my first post but my computer pooped out on me and the re-write wasn't nearly as detailed!

Ok... GMC Safari, 1999, largest rear-end available in this truck 3.73, engine size 4.1 litre. Rear wheel drive 4X2. In fact I have a picture of the rig as it now sits which I will paste in here [hopefully]

Modified as follows:

*brake controller
*trans cooler
*timbren rubber shocks 1,600 lb. in extra weight bearing capacity
*Synthetic lubricants throughout including transmission to help keep it cooler
Attached Images
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Old 12-31-2002, 05:39 PM   #4
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I wouldn't try it. The dry weight of your trailer is already 400 lbs over the towing capacity of the van, the tongue weight is over half the cargo capacity. A short hop on flat land would be scary, through several mountain ranges could be a disaster.

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Old 12-31-2002, 06:12 PM   #5
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Arggh... I need to include the trailer weight dry/wet and length too!

1969 Overlander International
Dry weight [as weighed at a public scale a few weeks ago] 5800 lbs.
tongue weight: 800 lbs.
Trailer length: 27 feet

Now.... I think I've included all the specifics!

Snow is expected tomorrow 1 - 3 inches so .... we were gonig to try to beat it and leave in the morning, but will check this thread tonight for any comments.....

Andrea & James Steward
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Old 12-31-2002, 06:14 PM   #6
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One last post after seeing that one from 74 Argosy...

We went through rigorous questions with the dealership to find out the towing capacity of this van, the rear end differential and transmission are rated on paper for 5,500 lbs.

Ok...think that's it for now.
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Old 12-31-2002, 06:46 PM   #7
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I feel you will be o.k.,

The Astrovan is built pretty much like a truck, ladder frame, solid rear axle and I believe they now have the Vortec V6, which is a tough engine, basically a 350 small block with 2 cylinders lopped off. I had a 86 model that I pulled a 22' "white box" with, it handled well enough, I just wanted a bit more power. It was the old TBI injected engine, not nearly as powerful as the MPFI Vortecs. I wouldn't say it is the preferred choice, you won't be making any land speed records, but should be able to get it up to 55 or 60 pretty easily. If you have done much towing you should have that good ole' seat of the pants feeling if things are not right. Take it easy and wish you a safe trip.

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Old 12-31-2002, 06:55 PM   #8
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The trailer looks sharp from the photo.

I drove one Astro and one Safari from 1987 to this past spring. I have perhaps half a million miles experience with them. They are wonderful trucks. But there is no way you should ask it to pull a 27' three ton trailer. The reason I no longer drive one is I bought an '87 25 foot, shorter and lighter than yours.

If you are talking about a one time thing, and you have plenty of time, and can select your roads, and can avoid any really steep mountains, and are willing to keep the speed down to 55 or less, well, maybe.

Some may suggest it could be done with a Hensley or Pullright, and with no experience I cannot challenge them. However, the 4.3/3.73 is no match for mountains and that load.

You need more wheelbase. You need more torque. And yes, I do miss my Safari, but not when towing!


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Old 12-31-2002, 07:02 PM   #9
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Rent A Truck?

Have you thought about renting a truck that's able to tow this A/S?

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Old 12-31-2002, 07:25 PM   #10
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Modified GMC/Overlander combo - request advice.

Greetings Andrea and James!

I am afraid that you may be headed for a very unpleasant experience with the combination as it stands. I too, tow an Overlander (1964 with a loaded weight of 6,000 pounds) - - the lightest vehicle that I have ever used to tow it through the Rocky Mountains was a 1995 Chevrolet K 1500 Z71 with 5.7 Liter and 3.73 differentials - - it was a danger on grades as it would slow to 30 MPH less than surrounding traffic on even the gentlest of grades, and that's after dropping to second gear. The original owners of my trailer towed with a full-sized passenger car, but it always had at least a 390 cubic inch V8 with at least 3.90 differential gears.

If you must try with this combination, please be sure that you have the very best sway control setup available as the 4.3 Liter simply won't have the guts to power through an emergency situation should the trailer decide to try to wag the tow vehicle. My previous Nomad did this to me when I tried to tow it with a marginal tow vehicle and the resulting sway caused my rig to turn 180 degrees in the middle of a busy highway in Southern Illinois - - fortunately, I was traveling at less than 45 MPH so the rig remained upright and actual damage to the rig and tow vehicle was not of great consequence.

I would encourage you to consider having a professional delivery service deliver the trailer to your destination. The cost will be significant, but it could potentially save you much more in the long run.

Best wishes for a safe journey.

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 12-31-2002, 07:27 PM   #11
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Thumbs up Love Shack on a smooth Track

I guess by now yall are nervous as can be.
Sure yall are gonna make it just fine! I-80 to I-84 Steady grade inclines and nothing in the stratosphere as far as elevations. You'll sneak right through some high plains and never regret the adventure. When you get to the Columbia River Gorge you're almost home. Throw a kiss to Mt.Hood and if worse comes to worse leave it in the Dalles and pick it up later. Go steady but easy and pull over and let her rest if necessary. Drive during the day and use Wal-Mart lots if needed. Also Flying J truck stops with dump stations, I've read here. If there is ice on roads ahead park and wait it out. Drive relaxed and write a song about it all. I would surely stop at a truck stop and buy a set of those reflective breakdown flags/triangles. Not cause you are likely to need em, but because they are a must have on the road for us all. When yall get home trade either trailer or van for future odysies.

Please keep us posted or at least a recap upon arrival.

Happy trails
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Old 01-01-2003, 01:21 AM   #12
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I have a lot of friends that tow TrailManors with Astros. There has been a lot of conversation about Astros at our rallys. The folks who own them tow low-profile trailers weighing no more than 4000#. Several of them want to upgrade to larger TrailManors in the 5000# GVWR class and have not because they know the Astros are close to their limits at 4000#.

I towed my old Scamp (3240# loaded) with an S-10 with the 190 hp 4.3L Vortec. At that weight, it was a winner, but there is no way I would try to tow a trailer weighing almost twice as much for any distance.
John W. Irwin
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:58 AM   #13
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This was exACTLY what we were looking for. Thank you for your posts, we really appreciate the stories, the insight and perspectives of everyone.

We were hoping to get out of here before the snowfall expected arrived - but we have decided to take a step back and look at other options, maybe something we haven't considered or seen as a possibility. John your comment about a delivery service did come up, but the cost was/is indeed somewhat prohibitive.

We've even thought about going back to Portland without the trailer for now and working out something with our current vehicle on our home turf - but there again, this trailer IS our home turf....wherever she may be!

Many wonderful friends who would allow us to camp on their doorsteps while working something out, but we've come such a long way to leave without the Overlander....we've worked so hard to get here......

What an interesting quandry. We promise to keep you informed and updated on our progress along the way. For now we're going to sit tight and keep our eyes peeled for the possibilties.

Further posts are encouraged...but all in all the gut feeling we have both had as the day to "roll" came closer was that we were in way over our heads in this combination....

Much to think about here...we're determined though....

Oh, by the way! "LoveShack on a smooth track" is now our official tag line!! LOL

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Old 01-01-2003, 03:27 AM   #14
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Don't panic Hex gave you the best advice, your Astro isn't a VW beetle, many members use them to tow AS's your size.
Great looking AS, congrats.

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