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Old 06-22-2004, 11:44 AM   #29
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I believe Gerry is already on the road, which makes some of these things more expensive to accomplish, and difficult to bring back if not done right. I prefer not to mess with my vehicle while on the road unless it is broken.

Gerry at this point you have a lot of input. I stick to my rec of towing in 3rd, as do several others. This is based on a lot of experience with failures on 1/2 tons, often from normal use, not even towing. OTOH, Silvertwinkie pulls in OD but has made mods and is very conscious of what the vehicle is doing and when to manually intervene, as I have described. A trans will cost $2500 or so, the additional fuel, perhaps $100. You might get lucky and have no problems, even towing in OD. If it were me, I would choose the conservative route so I didn't have to worry about it but that's just me.

Good luck and have a great trip.

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Old 06-22-2004, 11:51 AM   #30
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tow haul mode

if i remember correctly tow haul mode has a cut off point like once you reach a certain speed the tranny acts as normal. check your book it might be 60 miles per hour. if this is the case on your vehicle if you keep your speed below that i would think that you should not have any problems. i pull a 31' with my 99 chevy i keep it below 60 and run in OD but it is pretty flat here in michigan and we stop alot. (2.5 year old). check the book or ask the dealership about tow haul I use it and it works great.
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Old 06-22-2004, 12:00 PM   #31
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Gerry go back and look at your owners manual. Does is say OD towing is permitted? My '99 Chevy van said 3rd gear. My '03 GMC van says OD is ok, but use 3rd when hunting starts. The difference? A 5.7 liter 3.73 rear axle, no auxillary transmission cooler on the Chevy. A 6.0 liter 4.10 rear axle, and auxillary transmission cooler on the GMC. Based on your towing combo you are right at the edge.


Jack,

I have the "trailer package", that was a factory option on the car. It includes a transmission cooler amongst other things.

To quote the manual exactly "You should tow in DRIVE (D). You may want to shift the transmission to THIRD (3) or, if necessary, a lower gear if the transmission shifts too often (e.g. under heavy loads and/or hilly conditions)."

Then the manual goes on to talk about the "tow/haul" function.

There is a message panel on the dashboard that is designed to monitor all fluid temp levels, all I can share is that on the 7,800 foot climb on Raton Pass at the Colorado / New Mexico border, I got down to 30 mph, probably running in second gear (engine rpms about 3,500) for several miles on a 90 degree day and none of the lights came on.

Made me feel good about the rig.

Gerry
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Old 06-22-2004, 03:12 PM   #32
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Wink So onward

I want to thank each and every one of you for your inputs. I do plan to go to a truck and get a definitive weight on every axle so I can continue down an informed path.

I will go ahead and drive the car in third, or tow/haul, all the time when I'm hooked to the trailer. FWIW, I checked the transmission fluid just now and it was cherry red and smelled like oil.

Tomorrow we embark on the Alaska trip, I plan on driving 55 to 60 the whole trip and smell every flower along the way.

Again, thanks to the list for all the comments, it HAS been very informative.

Best to all.

Gerry
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Old 06-22-2004, 03:20 PM   #33
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Who Hoo

Have A Safe And Great Time
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Old 06-22-2004, 03:58 PM   #34
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Ditto...safe travels Gerry...take lots of pic so you can share with us when you get back!
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Old 07-08-2004, 10:14 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I agree Jack. My point is that Gerry can do the same thing to his Suburban. The easiest of which is adding an additional or larger trans cooler and a trans temp gauge. Both took me about 3 hours (mostly due to the fact I fabricated most of my own brackets, mounting plates, etc).

BTW, another cheap mod is getting the GM or eqiv deep trans pan (and deep pan filter kit). It adds about 2 extra quarts. Now I am no physics major, heck I need a calculator to add 1+1! However, I believe it make sense to add the deep pan since adding fluid increases the volume of fluid taking it longer to heat up when flash heat happens.

Everything I've talked about cost me less than $200 and a half of a Saturday installing.
I have a 1999 Suburban 1500. The transmission pan is about 3" deep. Would that be a standard transmission pan, or a deep one? (I've tried to attach a picture, but not sure if it will work as it's my first time.) Did you get yours from a GM dealer? Any recommendations for a brand/source of transmission temperature gauge?
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Old 09-25-2004, 04:11 PM   #36
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Hi all, Gerry here and back from the Alaska trip. Used (all) your advise and pulled the 28', 7,000 lb Airstream from Tallahassee Fl. and back putting 14,000 miles on the rig. I left the 2001 Suburban (5.3 liter, 3.73:1,) in 3rd gear with the "tow hauling" engaged continuously. Cleared several interstate and good two lane road passes that exceeded 8,000 feet with the Suburban showing no real stress. Did, for sure, spend a lot of time in second gear and on occasion I did take her down to first gear and let the engine sit at 3,500 rpm (she wanted to run faster than that). Most times the 'Burb wanted to accelerate out of second as well but I'd put her in second and ease off the gas to hold her at 3,000 rpm. As I recall this gave me about 35 to 40 mph.

Axle loading was 3,400 lbs on front axle of the Suburban, 4,100# on rear and 6,000 on the Airstreams axles. Used a Reese's best load balancing hitch (wonderful hitch), couldn't tell the trailer was there except for accelerating and really bumpy roads (like just north of Denver on the interstate.

We spent most of our time at 55 mph and (on reasonably level interstates) got 12.5 mpg, on hilly secondary roads we averaged 11.5 mpg.

Saw gas at $1 liter (Canadian) or $3.70 a gallon (American) in the Yukon, BC, and Alaska. Nice to be back to the $1.85 / gallon world!

All in all a wonderful trip and it is my opinion that a stock Suburban (with a tow package) with two people taking a trip (not tons of luggage) and who are willing to take average speeds of 55 mph can go most anywhere they wish in North America.

Happy to answer any questions.

Gerry
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Old 09-25-2004, 08:46 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by nangoff
All in all a wonderful trip and it is my opinion that a stock Suburban (with a tow package) with two people taking a trip (not tons of luggage) and who are willing to take average speeds of 55 mph can go most anywhere they wish in North America.
Hi Gerry,

Great to hear of your successful trip. Wow, Florida to Alaska and back! Awesome! That's my kind of trip.

I, too, am in the "1/2 ton does just fine" camp. I don't understand the other camp's ("the need for the BEEFIEST trucks" camp) beliefs such as:

1. The hysteria over "warm and comfy" factors that make people think they must tow at 50%-75% of tow capacities. If your rig is under the GCVWR and the other VWRs then your safe to go, IMHO. I'm at 90% when fully loaded and my truck handles the trailer like it's not there.

2. I also don't understand the need to pull a trailer over the Eisenhower Tunnel in the Rockies (or other high passes) at 80 MPH. So what if you slow down to 50 MPH over the pass? Do you really need all that raw engine power if ya only go over a high pass once or twice a year?

3. I think there is a lot of misconceptions out there in the 1/2 ton truck vs. a 3/4 ton truck, even to the point that I have read statements like "don't even think about towing a 25' or longer trailer with a 1/2 ton" or such as:
Quote:
As you probably know, the 3/4 ton chassis is in many ways superior to the 1/2 ton for towing purposes - practically everything is "heavy duty". Suspension, brakes, rims, tires, frame, cooling and steering are some of the items that you will find have more beef in the 3/4 ton as compared to the 1/2 ton. Add a bit more to the "warm and comfy" Safety Factor.
Not true. My Sierra Denali 1500HD has the all the same above except the Denali has bigger 17" wheels. The bluring of the distinction of the 1500HD vs. 2500 has gone to the point that GM does not offer a plain 2500 any more.

Bottom line is that properly equiped 1/2 tonners can tow 25' and longer trailers all over North America and do it safely.
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Old 09-25-2004, 10:38 PM   #38
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Big Dee and et all,

Yup. Agreed. The only "gauge" I had was my engine temperature gauge which never budged off 180 degrees (granted not exacting BUT it never moved).

The 1/2 ton Suburban manual says that the total load should not exceed 14,000 lbs. At 13,500 lbs I felt I was just about right for the truck. I didn't sit in the front seat with the other people in our group to see how hard they were pressing their trucks(there were 38 trailers in our caravan), but I was never the last one to pull into camp and while others were able to climb hills a little faster than I, no one (diesels and all) left me in the dust. [I think the toughest climb we saw was just out of Laramie Wy. heading east on I-80 with Kurt Gowdy state park at the summit. I think that climb ended at 8,500 feet and the climb was at least 7% for 10 miles. It was never ending.]

Most annoying would be the occasions where we crept up on wildlife and began to watch only to be chased off by some (Dodge especially) diesel. Never paid much attention to diesels until this trip where a bit of quiteness in approaching wildlife was fundamental to seeing them. Of course brown and grizzlie bears didn't care if you were driving a freight train, but everything else did (including black bears).

I've got to give this truck a lot of credit. I am so proud it made it through all I gave it: miles of washboard roads in Chicken, rain soaked mud hills / roads where you could feel you back end slipping side to side , frost heaved roads on top of frost heaved roads, and miles of miles of miles and miles. It just awoke every morning and seemed to look forward to the day as much as we did.

And when we uncoupled and washed up and went into town for a dinner once in a while, it took us there in soft, coil springed, quiet, elegence.

I don't think I need a larger trailer for the trips we are planning to take, and if the transmission does fall out on the ground I'll probably put in a new one and drive 52 instead of 55.

Gerry
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Old 09-25-2004, 11:22 PM   #39
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Gerry,

You must give us more details about your trip. I am so jealous and would love to hear more. I can't wait to get to Alaska but it is at least two years a way. Did you take a WBCCI caravan? Would you recommend a caravan if going to Alaska? Any breakdowns? Flat tires? Any unfortunate events? Or better, the fortunate events. I can only imagine how much wildlife there is and the stunning vistas.
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Old 09-26-2004, 09:25 AM   #40
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How did you do stoppping and holding down your speed going down the other side. This is more my concern. Slow over the top doesn't hurt nearly as much as very fast down the other side. Any info on the Alaska route / trip would be great. This seems to be getting very popular, how crowded were the campgrounds, ect.
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Old 09-29-2004, 01:29 AM   #41
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Big Dee,

I would absolutely, without reservation, recommend this trip.

I went with a WCBBI caravan, Dave and Linda Andrejuski (bad spelling) were leaders. This 60 day trip (cost $3,500 or so depending on options) was a delight. There were 38 "trailers" and about 80 people. This trip has been done many times by the WBCCI group. They have honed it down to the best rv parks, the best shows, the best boat trips, plane trips, and the like. Just pay your money and enjoy the ride....somebody else does the scheduling work. There was exactly enough "rest" time between activities, the days were filled up. 60 days is a long trip (three of the trailers had to go home for personal reasons (houses wrecked by hurricanes led the list)), but all of us could have gone on for more days, Alaska is a wonderous state.

The roads were good to excellent (given where we were). There were no breakdowns at all from anyone on the trip. In fact, I cannot recall one flat tire.

If you decide to go, go with the WBCCI group. I think they only do the Alaska trip every other year. I know that the trip Dave and Linda do is next scheduled for 2006, and there is a waiting list already. Get your monies in now to get on the list...Dave and Linda did a remarkable job........can't say enough about their work.........really got the best deals and worked tirelessly.

OVER59,

We went July 15th to September 15th. There was plenty of room at the campgrounds (generally). Some places got a little tight (like Chicken Al, population 12). Again, I would definitely go with a group. It takes all of the "should I or shouldn't I" out of the equation. Also, you don't flounder around looking for the best places and activities. Our Dave and Linda did many side trips looking at things and places for the next caravan. Also, 38 trailers is a BIG order for these parks, shows, etc. You get the good prices.

Got to go, start planning your trip. It is a lifetime experience, one you will not soon forget.

Gerry
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