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Old 02-21-2008, 02:29 PM   #1
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1977 29' Ambassador
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What can I tow with my 1995 Suburban 2500?

We have a 1995 Suburban 2500 with tow package. We used to tow a teeny tiny 1971 Apache Pop up camper. Now we're looking to buy something bigger (family of 5) and want an Airstream. Problem is it seems the smaller the Airstream, the more money they cost (go figure). And our budget is tight tight tight. So we've found a 1977 29' Ambassador within 2 hours of our house that we're interested in. We figure we could remove storage units and add bunks over the existing twins making 2 bunk beds there. The problem is the size.

1)We've never towed anything that was over 10' in length. Is it hard? Is it impossible to back into a camping spot? Are there camping places where you can't have a TT that big? We go to Fort Wilderness at Disneyworld, Assateauge Island and state parks mostly. For us Assateague is 8 hour drive and Disney is a drive 10 hours, stop overnight then drive 5 more hours thing.

2)My mechanic said he'd worry about my transmission failing. He said that year suburban had bad tranny's in them to begin with so it's prob not in the best shape with 139,000 miles on it. It's never slipped or anything to date. Thoughts?

3) tranny and engine worry I guess, is this Airstream just too big for my '95 Suburban to handle?
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:45 PM   #2
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You should have no problem weather it is a 350 or a 454. I towed a 34 fter. with a 1/2 tom Sub diesel cross country. You will have your foot in it more than you will like if the rear is a 342.

I would suggest you consider an aux trans cooler and if you realy want to go first class a BD Torque Loc. This will allow you to control the converter and greatly reduce shifting while at road speeds. Also the Loc will allow you to lock the converter in 2nd or 3rd as long as the speed it above 35 mph. A great feature while pulling a hill.
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Old 02-21-2008, 02:52 PM   #3
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If you stay on the east coast and out of the big hills you are likely alright. I would get the transmission oil changed and the bands adjusted so they will not slip. I also would not pull in overdrive. The 350 is really not up to it if you drive into the Rockies. I have seen several people try with the old 350 and just have to creep thourgh at 35 mph on the grades. The 350 truck engine is quite durable and has been used in marine service with distiction. You will need to buy a good Weight distribution hitch and a brake controller. It will take some getting used to by comparison to a pop-up, but you will make it. The first few times you have your wife directing you to back into a smaller campsite might test your marriage.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:04 PM   #4
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I had a senior moment on my other post.

Yes that trans is not happy towing in Overdrive.

I did not have the BD Torque Loc on my 1/2 ton. What I had was a Gear Vendors Splitter set up as an over drive. This gave me 8 forward speeds and while towing I used 3rd over which would lock the converter at 55 mph.
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:05 PM   #5
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Can I tow this?

Greetings Breiz!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Breiz
We have a 1995 Suburban 2500 with tow package. And our budget is tight tight tight. So we've found a 1977 29' Ambassador within 2 hours of our house that we're interested in. We figure we could remove storage units and add bunks over the existing twins making 2 bunk beds there. The problem is the size.
While they weren't particularly common, a fold-away bunk was optional for center twin layouts. These were often referred to as hammock bunks -- they were aluminum frames covered with canvas with a thin foam mattress on top. They didn't always replace the roof lockers -- it depended somewhat on year and model -- my Overlander retained its roof lockers despite having been equipped with the hammock bunk option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Breiz
1)We've never towed anything that was over 10' in length. Is it hard? Is it impossible to back into a camping spot? Are there camping places where you can't have a TT that big? We go to Fort Wilderness at Disneyworld, Assateauge Island and state parks mostly. For us Assateague is 8 hour drive and Disney is a drive 10 hours, stop overnight then drive 5 more hours thing.
While 29' seems quite large when upgrading from a pop-up, it really isn't really terribly different from a towing standpoint. I made several upgrades that included a Coleman Minuteman, a Nomad Light 17', then my '64 Overlander (26'). Quite honestly, the Overlander is much less stressful to tow than either the Nomad or Coleman due to its excellent road manners. The Nomad had a particular tendency to sway regardless of loading and a "white knuckle" experience whenever towed -- I have never had a real "white knuckle" experience with my Overlander in more than 12 years of ownership.

Backing and most campground maneuvers are actually a little easier with the Overlander as is the case with most tandem axle trailers as they don't tend to react as quickly to steering input as the shorter single axle trailers. I know that I can usually place the Overlander with less maneuvering than my single axle Minuet even though I tend to tow the Minuet more frequently.

With a properly setup hitch with built-in sway control such as the Reese Stright-Line with Dual Cam Sway Control or the Equal-I-zer hitch system, your Suburban should be quite comfortable towing a late-1970s Ambassador.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Breiz
2)My mechanic said he'd worry about my transmission failing. He said that year suburban had bad tranny's in them to begin with so it's prob not in the best shape with 139,000 miles on it. It's never slipped or anything to date. Thoughts?
I wouldn't be overly concerned about your Suburban's transmission if it has received regular service. My 1999 K2500 Suburban has traveled 198,000 miles most of which have included either the Airstream or Argosy -- the transmission has needed nothing more than regular service.

In fact, I haven't had any particular problems with the transmission in my '75 Eldorado -- my mechanic insisted upon two fluid an filter changes before its first towing use (it had just over 120,000 miles when first used for towing) -- these were done on the same day -- the first service was early in the a.m. -- then the car was driven 4 hours on the highway with the second change immediately following the drive while the transmission fluid was still hot. Its transmission has also been trouble-free.

In both cases, I have axuilliary transmission fluid coolers of appropriate rating. In fact, GM included a fan-cooled auxilliary transmission fluid cooler on my Suburban as part of its trailer towing package (10,000 pound package).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Breiz
3) tranny and engine worry I guess, is this Airstream just too big for my '95 Suburban to handle?
I don't have my '95 GMC Suburban literature handy, but I know that the C/K 2500 with trailer tow package had a rating quite close to that of my '99 (the chassis/body were nearly identical with the primary difference being that the motor in the '95 was pre-Vortec). The Suburban was designed to be a tow vehicle, and I have found my '99 to be happy towing either of my coaches. With regular maintenance and a careful watch, the miles on your Suburban's odometer wouldn't worry my greatly -- I am planning on at least 250,000 to 350,000 miles from my Suburban in its role as tow vehicle.

Good luck with your deliberations. I can't imagine that your Suburban would have any particular problems accomplishing the job that you propose.

Kevin
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Old 02-21-2008, 03:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
I would get the transmission oil changed and the bands adjusted so they will not slip. I also would not pull in overdrive. The 350 is really not up to it if you drive into the Rockies.
Two problems with this post.
1. GM doesn't have bands to adjust

2. My 350 pulled from California to Yellowstone - over the rockies with no power problems or overheating, in July.
I have also commonly pulled into the Sierras multiple times.

Your results may be different.

Dave
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:28 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Burbs

As you can tell, there are a lot of Burb lovers around here.

You didn't mention what engine is in yours, our 95 has the 454 option, even

if you have the 350 I think you'll be ok towing your Stream.

As stated earlier the Trans shouldn't be a problem if it hasn't been abused.

We have over 165k on ours without any concerns. Any good service shop

would be able to do a power flush, which changes all the fluid incl. the

converter. It would also be a good idea to change the internal filter also.

That would enable you to inspect the pan for any tell-tale debris. One

up-grade I did do was a external remote filter with temp guage.

All in all youv'e got a very good tv, some preventative maint, and get on

the road and enjoy.
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Old 02-21-2008, 04:28 PM   #8
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If you actually have a 2500 1995 Suburban you have a 3/4 ton and it should have the larger 454 engine. As far as the overdrive transmission, tow in 3rd gear and save overdrive for flat towing on the interstate. I tow my 1984 34' triple axle with a 1990 3/4 suburban and have no problems I also have the oil cooler added. My suburban has 125,000 on it and I do not worry about towing with it at all. It will not take you any time at all getting used to towing a larger unit because Airstreams tow extremely well. If you are really worried about the overdrive transmission ck with a local wrecking yard and price newer transmission with lower miles out of a wreck. This is usually more cost effective that a rebuild or factory replacement and I've never had a problem with any engine or transmission I've replaced/recycled.

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Old 02-21-2008, 05:10 PM   #9
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As the fellow streamers have said, you should be in good shape. With the factory package, you may allready have added trans cooling...but the key to success with a trans is keeping it clean and keeping it cool. Like the added trans temp guage...hey, if nothing else it looks cooler! Get your trailer brakes in prime condition with a good controller and you'll be quite surprised. Good luck
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Old 02-21-2008, 06:16 PM   #10
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Can I tow this?

Greetings Breiz!

Something did occur to me as I read through the other posts. The one thing that you might want to check on your Suburban, and in the scheme of things it is a small but critical safety factor. If the truck has the factory hitch receiver you will want to be sure to carefully examine it for cracks, loose or missing bolts, etc. These factory hitches have been noted for problems as they age and are used with heavier trailers. I haven't had problems with mine, but it is on my mechanics regular check-list for pre-trip inspections.

Again, good luck with your deliberations!

Kevin
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Old 02-21-2008, 06:54 PM   #11
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In 1995 your Suburban should have the 4L80E transmission (the heavier-duty model). We tow our 31' Airstream with our F250 (3/4 ton chassis, like yours), and a small block engine. It's not particularly happy doing it in the mountains, but on anything less than an 7% grade, you should be fine.
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Old 02-21-2008, 07:04 PM   #12
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You should be fine. I would not be concerned at all with that vehicle.

I would take some of the suggestions that have been outlined, and of course proper preventive maint and all, but you are good to go! Now get out there and have some fun!
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:09 AM   #13
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Thanks to everyone for the advice. Seems I came to the right place! Someone said that I didn't mention what engine I have.I honestly don't know. How can I tell?

Overlander64 said:" I have axuilliary transmission fluid coolers of appropriate rating. In fact, GM included a fan-cooled auxilliary transmission fluid cooler on my Suburban as part of its trailer towing package (10,000 pound package)."

How can I tell if I have that in my Suburban?


Thanks again!

We're so nervous about towing something so big, but we so want an Airstream
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Old 02-22-2008, 08:38 AM   #14
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As far as telling what engine you have just ask any mechanic while he is checking the oil.

Considering where you live, in the hills of Pa., just keep one thing in mind if you do nothing else. When towing in the hills don't hesitate to pull the trans down into a lower gear while going up any hill that is slowing you down. What I am saying is you do it before the trans does it. This will tend to keep you engine rpms up in the power range and greatly reduce temperature increase in the trans. Likewise a good rule of thumb is, what ever gear you go up the hill in is a good gear to go down the hill in. This gives you engine brakeing and will tend to retard speed increases while going down hill.

In general the hills in Pa. are more demanding on the rig than those so called hills out west. They tend to be short and steep which causes the trans to attempt to shift all over the place.
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