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Old 01-28-2008, 07:06 PM   #1
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seattle , Washington
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To Suburban Or Not

Hello. I have a 1986 Ford diesel 250 with about 125,000 miles. She is slow, but sure. She is the model that came with the big radiator. In late summer of this year we plan to take a trip. Her Majesty (The Ford) pulls a 1976 Classic, 31 foot Sovereign. We go up hills at about thirty five and roar down the other side only to cruise across the flats and gear up for the grades. Our trip will be from Seattle to California and then maybe across the southwest to Florida and then back via some sort of triangle. I figure about 6000 miles. Her majesty is tried and true, has a new master cylinder and new air, but is s-l-o-w and that is a long way to go and come. So. The question is should I buy a new to me, but used Suburban...say a 1999 for the trip. Any suggestions and information are appreciated. BTW What kind of milage does a Suburban get hauling a 31' Sovereign. Thanks Joan

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Old 01-28-2008, 07:28 PM   #2
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 19,577
If it were me, I would put the money I would spend on the burb in a pair of Gear Vendors or US Gear over/underdrives, and use your tried and true 6.9.
I had this setup, along with an AiResearch turbo, on my 6.9. Also a 1986 F250, long bed, supercab. If the cab hadn't rusted away, I'd still have it. We also have a Sovereign.

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Old 01-29-2008, 09:30 AM   #3
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1986 32' Excella
2014 Interstate Ext. Coach
Citrus Heights , California
Join Date: Aug 2006
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I have a 93,Burb,454 big block, 3.73 rear end, 2500-3/4 ton
Pulling the 32 Excella I get 11 on the flats, going up 80 to Lake Tahoe 8.5 to 9 mpg. speed up to Tahoe falls to 45 mph and no lower.
The 32 I have probably weighs 800 lbs more than your 31.Model year, solid wood cabinets etc.
I ripped out the rear 2 seats to have wide open space aft of front seat. This is great. You would not believe how much oversize stuff you can cram in there.And the seats I removed weighed 200lbs.!
I'm a Burb lover. With a 31 footer and a burb you'll have lotsa room for all your stuff, hobbies etc.
Watch your loading tho-It's easy to think, gee I can fit this in easily- think more along the lines of -do I really need this?
Any way enjoy your trip.

PS I noticed in another thread I was mentioned, I did remove my gaucho and have a temporary IKEA loveseat in it's place. I had to trim the back of it to fit over the battery boxes-But I'm thinking you may not have that problem-depends where the batts are of course.My 73 has the batt aft.
Good luck, it's all good. If you have problems while on tour just post on the forum.Someone will help you.

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Old 01-29-2008, 09:38 AM   #4
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2012 30' International
Walkerton , Virginia
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Only caution I have is to be sure that your 'burb candidate is really a 3/4 tonner and not a soccer mom-mobile.

Good luck!

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Old 02-01-2008, 08:53 AM   #5
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2005 39' Land Yacht 390 XL 396
Common Sense , Texas
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Just my "opinion", but 125,000 miles should be no problem on a Diesel, and trading for a '99 anything is not too desirable unless your Ford is otherwise in bad shape, and what you are trading for is a cream puff with a known history.
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Old 02-01-2008, 10:33 AM   #6
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1973 23' Safari
St. Catharines , South Western Ontario
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Many 18 wheelers slow on the hills too. No big deal especially when you are on vacation.

If you do the math a quicker vehicle many only save you 10 or 20 minutes at the most for the whole trip. Not much of an issue when you think about it.
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 02-01-2008, 10:49 AM   #7
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1978 28' Ambassador
Kenton , Ohio
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We tow a 1978 28ft. Ambassador with a 1999 3/4 ton Suburban. It is a great setup and the truck is very reliable. The down side is milage. I get around 10 mpg towing and not much better without the trailer. But even with the low mpg's I have no plans to switch to a diesel or another tow vehicle unless something revolutionary comes in the future.
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Old 02-01-2008, 01:22 PM   #8
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West Bloomfield , Michigan
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Why not a used Ford Excursion? I have a 2005 with the 6.0 and average around 12.5-13.5 while towing & 18.5-19.5 unloaded.
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Old 02-01-2008, 01:47 PM   #9
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Yakima , Washington
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Man I love them old Fords...I have one. The 125,000 miles on the Diesel you have is insignificant. If tanken care of they will run for half a million miles. I KNOW THIS FOR FACT. is everything else? Your'e truck is 22 years old. That means the radiator might be plugged up some. You can buy the big radiator for less than $275 new. Replacement in your truck is easy with new hoses. Hows the injector pump. If you have never replaced it or had it pepaired it is about time to watch it closely for leaks and such ..but again...NOT a real exspensive fix. Is the tranny good and maintained well? If you have a creampuff and all these things are good along with the things you know you have fixed over the years forget the new burb. Drive it till it drops....or if you live in damp climate....rusts to dead. YOUR never gonna wear the motor out if you keep it oiled regularly and and keep it cool with a good radiator. Buy the way the transmission you have I assumed is the 3 speed C-6? If it is you can have it rebuilt (when it dies) for under $2.000 dollars. I have a C-6 done with aftermarket shift kit and valve body..(it will last forever now) about 4 years ago for $1,600. It is scarry what they might want to rebuild a 1999 or newer tranny for ANYTING. Ya,,,them ol NON turbo's were slow but sure. Just can watch all the scenery go buy...if you buy a new truck you will be going to fast to see anything. YOU ON VACATION/RETIREMENT? ..LOL

Just some food for thought......
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Old 02-01-2008, 02:47 PM   #10
Little Radio
1966 28' Ambassador
Chicago , Illinois
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 97
RE: Suburban (or any GM truck with OEM hitch receiver pre-2005)

Google "GM hitch receiver failure" for lotsa worrisome reading. I'm shocked that a Class III/IV factory accessory is so pathetically engineered.

Stick with your Ford after checking your injector pump, tranny, brakes, radiator.

My 2c.

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