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Old 11-28-2008, 07:24 AM   #1
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Towing with a '92 Buick Roadmaster wagon?

We sold our excella 35 last year and recently bought one of those Award trailers which only weighs 4200#. I am thinkinf of selling off my dodge with cummins and going to a less valuable vehicle. Is anybody out there towing with one of those large gm wagons of this era?

I found a clean one on the web with a tow packag, 8 passengers and a beautiful leather interior.

I am wondering what kind of fuel economy they will actually get? it has teh 293 rear end so it might not do too badly solo. I used to get 8 towing with my suburban with 5.7, but it ran a 373 rear end, so maybe the car would do better.
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Old 11-28-2008, 07:40 AM   #2
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I do not know the gas mileage question - but would like to see pictures of the tv and the Airstream.
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Old 11-28-2008, 07:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
We sold our excella 35 last year and recently bought one of those Award trailers which only weighs 4200#. I am thinkinf of selling off my dodge with cummins and going to a less valuable vehicle. Is anybody out there towing with one of those large gm wagons of this era?

I found a clean one on the web with a tow packag, 8 passengers and a beautiful leather interior.

I am wondering what kind of fuel economy they will actually get? it has teh 293 rear end so it might not do too badly solo. I used to get 8 towing with my suburban with 5.7, but it ran a 373 rear end, so maybe the car would do better.
Can't comment on the TV, but hope you enjoy the Award.

We have owned one for the last nine years or so and it served us very well.
Ours was a 1993 27ft. twin bed version.

It had a light wt. of 3950# and towed like a dream - interstate speeds of 70mph+ no problem at all.

We towed it first with a Safari Minivan which had more than enough power but did get into mild sway problems due to a relatively short wheelbase.

Nevertheless we made several trips across the USA with that setup before switching to a Sierra 1/2 ton 4x4 extended cab. As a tow vehicle, it was far superior and made for a much more relaxing ride - its wheelbase was maybe 24"longer.

The only thing I would really keep an eye on with the Award is the integrity of the caulking. For some reason Awards are very prone to water leaks and this can cause extensive and costly damage.

Particulary vulnerable spots are the front lower corners and that big front window.

We did also have problems with the bathroom skylight and the back wall, where you need to pay close attention to the caulking around all the exterior lights.

If you sight down the side walls on the outside and see any large irregularity on the fibreglass surface (bulging out) that will be an indication of delamination due to water infiltration.

Another thing to watch is sagging of the sidewalls. The cross-braces that come out perpendicular to the main frame members are inadequate to properly support the sidewalls and they will drop - especially in the 27, 30, and 34 ft models.

The factory has a "fix" that they install extra sidewall supports fore and aft of the wheels - about $1000 installed as I recall. Some owners have had their own made up locally.

There is a "Yahoo Group" of Award owners where you can get lots of good info.

We finally decided to move away from our Award is it was just getting too costly to maintain - if I had the space to work on it myself, I would have kept it.

The Awards have a very nice layout and are well suited to travelling couples, they were quite expensive when first sold. The factory, only 50 miles from our home, folded up in the mid nineties, then a few years later re-opened in a much scaled down way.

They were building only maybe 20 a year, and these were only made to order. Price was 2 or 3 times what you would pay for an SOB - ind the range of $60k Can or more.

Once the Canadian Dollar came up somewhat they stopped building new trailers because most of their production had been going to the US

Last time I visited them (last Spring) they were really operating on a shoestring and only doing repair work - I doubt there were more than a half dozen employees if that.

After much searching for a replacement trailer, we determined that the Airstream was the only make that would compare for us.

I don't mean at all to be discouraging, we really loved our Award and I'm sure you will too, but just a few things to watch out for!

If I can be of any help at all, please email me!
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:13 AM   #4
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Thanks for the observations about the award. I have already discovered to some extent about the caulk issues. What type of caulk do you recommend to use caulking it?

If the other poster is interested in buying my dodge truck, thank you, but I am not ready to sell it just yet. If you like you can email me about it at twalgamuth@comcast.net. Its an 03 2500 cummins with the six speed manual.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:41 AM   #5
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There are a couple of people on this site who have experience towing with the Roadmaster. Hopefully they'll chime in.
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Old 11-28-2008, 08:49 AM   #6
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t walgramuth
If your are looking for another Airstream I definitely would NOT sell that truck. Thats the perfect TV . Your will not gain any fuel mileage In fact I believe You will lose.
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Old 11-28-2008, 09:09 AM   #7
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t walgramuth
If your are looking for another Airstream I definitely would NOT sell that truck. Thats the perfect TV . Your will not gain any fuel mileage In fact I believe You will lose.
Well, I am not thinking I will buy another airstream, but you never know. I am an experienced tt person and have owned seven or eight trailers and have towed with everything from a 74 saab to suburbans (had seven of them) one ton ford van with 6.9 and gear vendors od. The Dodge is the cream of the crop of all the tow vehicles I have owned but it has drawbacks....the back seat is pretty uncomfortable and it sits so high its not that easy for an old fart like me to get in and out of.

The wagon would offer more room for grandkids too....plus I have had a soft spot for the jelly bean shape of those wagons.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:08 AM   #8
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I towed both a 19' Bambi and a 25' Safari with the GM "B" body platform. The wagons and Cadillac Fleetwood versions have a more robust frame and both the "B and "D" drivelines are a proven drivetrain that spans at least 3 decades that I am aware of, maybe more.

That said, the granny gears (2.93) are barely enough if you will tow in any type of mountain areas. Yes it will do it, but the trans is NOT going to like it.

The vehicle you spec out came with either an LT1 5.7L or I think it was an L99 5.0L. Of course the LT1 5.7 with the 4L60e is more than up to the task, and you can basically tell just by looking at the wagon which engine it has. Dual exhaust? LT1 5.7L (detuned Corvette LT1). Mono exhaust, most likely 5.0L.

You will find between 10-12 mpg towing at speeds of about 60 mph. Faster=less MPG...slower you will get closer to 12 in the best of conditions (flat, no headwinds, etc).

The B Body platform is a solid platform and requires little over and beyond maint. The B platform is the basis for what was the 9C1 Police package found in the Caprice, Impala and Roadmaster vehicles. The "D" body is the Cadillac Fleetwood which shares many aspects of the "B" platform.

I have owned 3 "B" platform vehicles and each has been more than enough to tow whatever I threw at it. I will say that I replaced the 2.93s in my Caprice to 3.73s thinking heck I have all this power, I can easily tow 6300lbs. I found quickly that power is but one part of the equation. It was my understanding that the sedans were rated at about 5k towing and the wagons and Fleetwoods were rated slightly higher (even with the granny 2.93s). I figured that was mainly due to the fact that the Fleetwoods and wagons had more stout frames. Keep in mind though that each passenger, each stick of cargo, fuel, etc get taken off the tow capacity. For example, say the wagon has a 6k tow rating, deduct from that 6k the weight of each passenger, fuel, etc and that is what you are left with. This is a good rule of thumb for any TV, not just the wagon you are looking at.

Reader's Digest version of all this, I think you'll be fine as long as you don't overload (take too much stuff) and do little mountain towing. If mountain towing is going to be somewhat freq, then I might go to 3.42s. 3.73s are even better, but in your particular app, 3.42s would be the perfect balance. If I had to do it over again, I'd have gone 3.42s in my Caprice. In my truck I have 4.10s and would not part with them for anything, but for a passenger car that is not going to see anywhere near 8k, 3.42s would be my suggestion should you opt to upgrade the gearing.

On a side note, I added a trans temp gauge to my "B" and found that in towing at grade, with 3.73s and 6300lbs behind me, my trans got to 200 degrees. I added a second inline trans cooler and same pass got to about 185-190. I would fully suggest that you consider a trans temp gauge as I feel it is an invaluable tool to have when towing.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:22 AM   #9
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PS- the 1996 model year was the last year for both B and D platform cars. The 1996 has the most up to date fixes and re-designed parts. 1995 is also the year they upgraded the optispark on the LT1 powered versions. If time permits, I would wholeheartedly suggest a 1996 w/LT1 over any prior model year. Oh, and don't forget to change the rear differential fluid on any 90s B or D vehicle. GM put a bad gasket on the rear diff cover that didn't let fluid easily get to the outer bearings of the drive shaft. A very easy fix that will save thousand in rear end rebuilding later.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:22 AM   #10
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Thanks for the informative response. I am thinking it won't be a lot different than the 1500 suburban with gasser.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:24 AM   #11
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Thanks for the informative response. I am thinking it won't be a lot different than the 1500 suburban with gasser.
Not a whole lot. Only thing I can think of is that the Burb may have an even more robust frame than the B or D body cars, but, you are not going to be more than 6k when all said and done and I get the impression you won't be driving it like you stole it, so you should be good.
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Old 11-28-2008, 10:28 AM   #12
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i used to run 70 with the 35' excella towing with my cummins dodge, but I would not likely drive that fast with this setup.
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Old 11-28-2008, 11:13 AM   #13
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A good friend towed a 23' Award with a '66 Impala 9 passenger Stationwagon. Non-fuel injected (Edelbrock 600cfm 4 barrel carb), 700R overdrive transmission, 396 engine. Most of the towing through the mountains of the Pacific Northwest (BC and WA). He installed disc brakes and a larger auxilary transmission cooler, used an equalizer hitch with sway control bar.

He had no issues. No overheating, gas mileage in the very low teens keeping to the speed limits up and through the various mountain passes. The pair handled well, stopped fine, no sway issues, a nice combo.

He sold the trailer due to the delamination that is consistent with these trailers (all RV's have issues regardless of manufacture, it just happens that Awards have the wall and leak issues) and has purchased a 1951 Flying Cloud.

We have seen the early 90's wagons pulling a wide variety of trailers. They are still popular as TV's and can be purchased in reasonable condition for surprisingly low dollars.

Let us know what you decide to do, and if you do go down this path having your feedback would be helpful.

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Old 11-28-2008, 11:37 AM   #14
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Thanks for the comments. I will be on top of the roof and wall joints with some kind of high quality caulk and will inspect and renew yearly as needed.

I am still weighing the tow vehicle situation. Probably keeping the dodge in case I decide going back to an airstream if the economic situation will accomodate it is a good way to go.

I bought the dodge new and have had zero issues of any consequence with it, and best of all know how its been taken care of.
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