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Old 10-12-2010, 01:49 PM   #1
Wise Elder
Jammer's Avatar
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,020
UPgrading to 04 'burb with 8.1

After a great deal of cogitation I ended up deciding to get a 3/4 ton 'burb with an 8.1 liter gasser. Some shopping over a period of weeks turned up an '04 in dark red livery. The dealer is completing a few minor repairs and I expect delivery in a few days.

Once it shows up I'll be putting on a new hitch, since there are visible signs of stress in the existing one. The new hitch is already on order. I expect to upgrade to the Maxbrake brake controller next spring.

In my situation I didn't believe that any of the pickups provided sufficient cab space. I have three kids, and there are too many situations where friends, relatives, dogs, cats, or unusually delicate or valuable cargo require a true sixth seat. And due to the prevalence of mud and snow in this climate, I need 4wd. With the 30' classic that narrowed the field to the Excursion, 3/4 ton Suburban, or a full size van with an aftermarket 4wd conversion.

I came to the conclusion that the reliability and the overall cost picture were both best with the Suburban. The diesel Excursion was a tempting alternative but given the prices they command and the very real possibility of a high-buck unscheduled repair I didn't see any savings. I expect to put no more than 5,000 miles on a year and so fuel economy is not the compelling problem it might otherwise be.

I didn't find enough used 4wd vans to be able to evaluate the market. They are few and far between. My sense is that it wasn't worth waiting for one to show up, especially since I like the lines of the 'burb and Ex better and don't need that much space.

No 3/4 ton truck has an easy life and this one clearly has a lot of towing miles on it. The PO installed aftermarket aluminum covers on the trans and rear diff to improve cooling, a K&N performance intake, and a few other tweaks.

I'm keeping my 1997 K2500 pickup which will again be relegated to snow plowing duties and held in reserve in the event the right Avion C-10 comes along.

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Old 10-12-2010, 03:04 PM   #2
Rivet Master
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2008 30' Classic S/O
Dearborn , Michigan
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,278
Images: 21
Excellent choice.

The 8.1 'burb is the supreme tow vehicle.

Hitch upgrade is good idea.

I've found, using full synthetic, almost negligible oil loss between changes (~1qt with regular dino).

Octane has no impact on performance- that is, I've never wanted for power towing my +17,000lb rig.

Recently changed out the front (no rear) OEM sway bar bushings with polyurethane- pleasantly surprised by much improved performance.

Although it's been a great snow/mud tire, Michelin LTX A/T^2 make for a lousy tow vehicle tire- lots of wiggle and squirm, compared to the previous Firestone Transforce HT.

Enjoy and congrats

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Old 10-18-2010, 08:12 PM   #3
Wise Elder
Jammer's Avatar
2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,020
The subbie, or the 'bourbon, or something arrived today.

I dropped the OEM hitch and put it in the scrap pile and installed a new aftermarket one. The cracks in the weld between the receiver and the crossmember were clearly visible on the old one. Nothing like drilling the frame on the first day of ownership to make it your own, I guess.

Charge line tomorrow.

Poking around up there, this thing has two fuel tanks. Apparently each one has its own fuel pump, and they have a common fill port. I understand that's the stock configuration, and is supposed to hold 37 gallons total.
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