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Old 05-14-2013, 03:16 PM   #1
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1965 Caravel , Wisconsin
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Too Much Tow Vehicle

So, we just about shook our Caravel to pieces last year on an extended road trip. It may have been unbalanced tires (emergency replacements) or the tow vehicle (we already replaced the axle). We did replace the new tires with newer, balanced tires, but I'm still concerned about towing with our truck. We are using a 3/4 ton Suburban which I'm sure is overkill. What should we do about it? Can we do something to it to soften the ride?
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Old 05-14-2013, 03:30 PM   #2
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What air pressure are you using in the Suburban tires? Don't know what all you are carrying in the 'burb, but tires that are too hard with air pressure will make it ride stiff.

If you don't need the hauling capacity of the 3/4 ton, you could also have a leaf removed from the rear springs.
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Old 05-14-2013, 05:11 PM   #3
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What weight bars do you have on your hitch?
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:00 PM   #4
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We have a regular Reese tow hitch rated for 500lb tongue weight. Maybe we should just put a hitch on our minivan. I don't want to mess with my "burb" Do you think a minivan would make sense?
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:36 PM   #5
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Check for a stamped weight value on your weight distributing bars. 500-600 lbs is enough for your trailer.

Have the brake drums, tires and wheels balanced or install an active balancing system like centra-matic balancers.

Look at an air-safe hitch. We solved all our issues with a stiff ride for the trailer with a class 5 air-safe.

I prefer a 3/4 ton truck to insure adequate payload for the gear I like to carry in addition to the trailer.

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Old 05-15-2013, 09:39 PM   #6
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A '65 Caravel is listed as having a tongue weight of 250#. You need weight distribution like a hole in the head. You can pull that with just a ball connection. It's like connecting a balloon to a bowling ball. The minivan might prove the better choice after all.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:50 PM   #7
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If your Suburban has leaf springs and you're running light, rubber shackles can help - check out http://www.sulastic.com/

Reducing tire pressure in the rear axle will also help.

You should of course measure the actual tongue weight; our Tradewind is 550 rather than 430 as per spec, w/o even a full water tank.

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Old 05-15-2013, 10:03 PM   #8
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What about the AIR RIDE hitch?
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:34 PM   #9
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Too Much Tow Vehicle

Greetings funhouse!

Quote:
Originally Posted by funhouse View Post
So, we just about shook our Caravel to pieces last year on an extended road trip. It may have been unbalanced tires (emergency replacements) or the tow vehicle (we already replaced the axle). We did replace the new tires with newer, balanced tires, but I'm still concerned about towing with our truck. We are using a 3/4 ton Suburban which I'm sure is overkill. What should we do about it? Can we do something to it to soften the ride?
I tow with a 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban, and haven't had any problems with my Minuet. The Minuet scales out at close to 3,100 pounds with a typical hitch weigh of 550 to 575 pounds (depending upon the amount of fresh water and LP being carried -- I always try to travel with full fresh water and full LP tanks). The hitch weight is close to 200 pounds greater than what is listed as the unladen hitch weight with a full water tank (below the front window) being a significant contributor. My hitch is a Reese Dual Cam with 600 pound bars. The hitch is adjusted acording to Reese instructions. One thing that I was careful about when I ordered my Suburban was to specify the "standard" rather than heavy-duty or "off-road" suspension. Previous experience with a Chevy pickup with Z-71 "off-road" suspension taught me that there wasn't much that could be done to compensate for that unforgiving suspension when towing an Airstream -- and was large part of my motivation to trade in a four-year-old vehicle on the Suburban.

The ideal situation with a light Airstream like your Caravel would be a set of the old Light Weight Reese Weight Distributing trunion bars from the late 1970s and early 1980s. These bars were rated at 350 or 500 pounds. I had a set of 500 pound bars that I used with my 1980 Nomad, and used these for my first several seasons with the Minuet. They were a perfect match for my combination, but one bagan to show evidence of a stress crack and I had to replace that setup with the 600 pound bars. The 600 pound bars a little heavier than would be ideal, but have performed well for the past several seasons.


Some of the things that I have on my check-list for towing the Minuet with the Suburban include:
  • Inflate the Suburban tires to a point mid-way between the cold inflations for "unloaded" conditions and cold pressure for "fully loaded" conditions.
  • Inflate the "C" rated tires on the Minuet to 50 p.s.i.
  • Load heavy items toward the front of the Minuet to shift more weight toward hitch.
  • Fill fresh water tank and have LP tanks topped-off.
When I had the OEM shock absorbers replaced on the Suburban, I went with a high quality gas-charged shock designed for a smooth ride rather than the heavy-duty shock that the shop wanted to install. These shocks made a tremendous difference. The Shocks that I utilized are Monroe Sensatrac, but if I were to replace the shocks today, I would go with Monroe Reflex. I also switch the Suburban from the OEM Firestone tires to Michelin LTX tires, and these tires ride better and are quieter than the OEM Firestones.

My Minuet is riding on a new axle rated at 3,000 pounds with new shock absorbers as well. The new axle helped to both smooth the ride and make hitch adjustments simpler as the hitch head didn't need to be on the lowest notch on the deepest drop Reese drawbar (the trailer still was nose high with old axle) . . . the trailer now sits virtually level when hitched. I continue to use the OEM Good Year Marathons in load range C . . . but the are Radials rather than the OEM bias ply Marathons.

Good luck with your investigation!

P.S.: A minivan has been under consideration for towing the Minuet. While the factory trailer tow rating is sufficient for the Minuet, I know that I will miss the power and confidence that the Suburban exhibits when towing the Minuet (7.4 Liter in Suburban vs. 3.3 Liter in Minivan). My guess is that the Minivan will likely only average two or at most three MPG higher than the Suburban when towing. I don't know whether the raised roof on the minivan will be a benefit or hindrance to towing. The Suburban will still hold its position as tow vehicle for the Overlander as well as the car hauler.
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