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Old 04-16-2010, 10:47 AM   #1
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1973 25' Tradewind
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Upgrading to optimize a 1/2 ton Van for better towing- advice needed

Good Day all, I have Chevy Express cargo Van 5.3L 285 hp 3 73 with slip differential. Rated at 6600lbs x .80 is putting me at towing max 5280lbs. I believe the wheelbase is about 135, which I take, is pretty good. I bought the Ton because I wanted all wheel drive in a full size van. I believe I am out of luck towing a newer 25' AS. Ok with 70's

Many say forget the TV they come and go and worry about the trailer. I bought the van new and like it and have it set up with cargo boxes and good stereo to my liking. It now has 60,000 easy miles on it. My plan is to put top of line shocks on, upgrade tires to perhaps 10 ply. It seems to sit low to ground and is a bit mushy and an acquaintance suggested a suspension lift system, "hell *.*" something or other and adjust the torsion bars in front.

Please any advice or thoughts on how I can optimize my lowly 1/2-ton to make life towing safer and easier. I suspect the brakes will be a major limiting factor. Can you advice on what I can do? Thanks in advance Tony Rogue River Oregon
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:30 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Tony S View Post
Good Day all, I have Chevy Express cargo Van 5.3L 285 hp 3 73 with slip differential. Rated at 6600lbs x .80 is putting me at towing max 5280lbs. I believe the wheelbase is about 135, which I take, is pretty good. I bought the Ton because I wanted all wheel drive in a full size van. I believe I am out of luck towing a newer 25' AS. Ok with 70's

Many say forget the TV they come and go and worry about the trailer. I bought the van new and like it and have it set up with cargo boxes and good stereo to my liking. It now has 60,000 easy miles on it. My plan is to put top of line shocks on, upgrade tires to perhaps 10 ply. It seems to sit low to ground and is a bit mushy and an acquaintance suggested a suspension lift system, "hell *.*" something or other and adjust the torsion bars in front.

Please any advice or thoughts on how I can optimize my lowly 1/2-ton to make life towing safer and easier. I suspect the brakes will be a major limiting factor. Can you advice on what I can do? Thanks in advance Tony Rogue River Oregon
Install a transmission oil cooler.

You don't need any lift kits or beef up kits.

You will need a good load equalizing hitch, the rating to be determined based on what trailer you purchase.

DO NOT create a monster van by making it's suspension so rigid, that it will in turn cause damage to the trailer.

Andy
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:11 PM   #3
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You really don't want to lift it. Lower is better for towing stability.

I agree that finding the right trailer for your needs is most important, because people tend to hang onto them a long time. Even at 60k, if you do much traveling that van will be getting pretty old in just a few years. We bought our trailer in 03 and our van at the same time with 60k on it. Now it has 140k on it and it seems to be at that age where everything is breaking down. The trailer is definitely going to be around longer than the van!
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Old 04-16-2010, 12:30 PM   #4
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I towed for years with 1/2 ton vans. The last was a '99 Chevy Express passenger van. 5.7 liter V8 with the 3.73 axle. It was rated for 6,500 lbs. I pulled an '01 27' Safari which weighed in at 6,000 lbs which included 500 lbs of clothing, food, etc. (Dry fresh water tank).

Keep in mind dependent on what you tow, the transmission will not be rated to tow in OD. I always towed in 3rd. Suspension was a little soft when dealing with dips in roads. My mpg when towing was about 10-13. You will need an equalizing hitch to keep the van from squatting in the rear when the trailer is attached.

The advice for a tranny cooler is good. I put one on myself and you are $$ ahead to make that investment. Don't do any suspension mods. You don't need them. Tirewise I stuck with the stock tires that came with the van. Those had plenty of capacity to handle the weight that was distributed to the van via the equalizing hitch.

Van's make nice tow vehicles.

Jack
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Old 04-16-2010, 07:10 PM   #5
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Yes they do.

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Old 04-16-2010, 09:40 PM   #6
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I'll take that advice it works for me. I would like to take a little of the mush out but I will keep it as advised, stock suspension. I will get the transmission oil cooler and get the proper hitch. I have attached, a pic of my current set up in Bend Oregon. Folks, many mountain lakes to visit. Thanks Tony
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Old 04-16-2010, 11:03 PM   #7
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Here was my '99 Chevy Express half ton.
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Old 04-25-2010, 09:27 PM   #8
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My 20 year old 1/2 ton van has 160k miles. Still doing good.

Mods I did.
2 tranny coolers
Tranny shift kit to tighten mostly the 1 - 2 shift
1 radiator fan comes on only when the A/C is switched on
Air shocks in back - just to level the hitched combo if I need to

Brakes are not to worry, trailer has them too.
Taller tires will be the same as to create a lower numerical axle ratio. I have used stock sized tires.

My boat & trailer combo is 7400#s towed load
My Airstream is 5000#s towed load

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