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Old 10-07-2004, 05:07 PM   #1
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2012 30' International
Pleasant Hill , The Golden State
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Who's towing with a 1/2 ton?

Our new 25' CCD Int'l. is on the way and we want to haul it with a smaller unit. Maybe an SUV maybe a 1/2 ton truck.

Talked to some streamers who are doing it successfully (safe with decent mpg). How about you out there?

Three basic questions:

1> Short wheelbase ok? We'll be using a Hensley Arrow hitch.
2> 6.0 Liter Vortec enough juice? (345 HP/380 # feet of tourque)
3> 3.73 gears do the job?

We obviously would like to get a little better mileage solo, so are tending toward the 3.73 rears and avoiding the 8 liter.

Appreciate your feed back. Our trusty old '96 Dodge/Cummins will get us started, so we can take our time.

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Old 10-07-2004, 05:58 PM   #2
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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Having been down the same path you are about to take, I would strongly suggest that you get a 3/4 ton. There are a few reasons for this.

The 3/4 ton has:

4L80E trans
Better rear end/gear diameter= tougher
A bit better brakes

I modded out our full size Chevy sedan wich has a 5.7L, 4L60E, 3.73s and I will say this, it towed the Bambi like it wasn't even back there. However, our 2004 Safari 25', the engine did well, the rest I could tell I was not going to do too well. So we upgraded to a 3/4 ton Suburban with 4.10s and the 6.0L engine (LQ4). I would highly suggest that you get at least 4.10s. The 3.73s are good, but the 4.10s would be far nicer on the drivetrain, particularly on the hills and mountains. I was once a BIG 4L60E trans fan until I started to play with the 4L80E trans on my pops pickup and on our Suburban. It is way more stout than the 4L60E.

Also, short wheelbase is not good. Though there is a hit in MPG with the 4.10s vs the 3.73s, it is fairly minimal. Unless you are going 85+mph, I doubt you'd be able to notice in a stock setup...even then at 85+, maybe 1-1.5mpg..maybe?

As for a smaller SUV...IMHO, it's a bad call. Though the dual axles on the trailer make for a very comfortable tow, it is 25' of coach and small short wheelbase SUVs might not be such a good idea.

IMHO, you would be at the threshold with the 1/2 the Reader's Digest of all this is that yes, you can do it, but there are better vehicles out there for the job.

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Old 10-07-2004, 06:08 PM   #3
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FWIW this not a recomendation...just what I am doing at the moment. I am towing my 1975 31' (when it gets towed ) with one of a couple of F-150's both have factory tow with 3.73 LS rear ends, heavy duty cooling. One is a 4.6 V-8 the other is a 4.2 V-6. The V-6 is only used to move the trailer short distances ( under 10 miles) I would not use either of the vehicles to attempt a cross country trip, but they are both capable on relative level ground, and have no problems maintaining the legal speed limit. That being said, I have also pulled with a Chevy/GMC 2500 HD with 6.0, 4.10 LS and it rocks. We use these at work and tow 8000#+ equipment trailers with no problems.

The 3/4 ton trucks are built heavier than the half tonners. They will last longer and give you more margin of safety.

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Old 10-07-2004, 06:10 PM   #4
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i agree with twink.

towed my trailer many miles with 1/2 ton chevys with good results. i now have a 3/4 ton silverado with the 6.0 4L80 tranny and 4.10 gears.

best truck i have used to date! and i have enough reserve capacity to throw my harley in the back of the truck!

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:31 PM   #5
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I have a 2001 2500 4x4 with the 8.1 Vortec. It has the 3.73 rear end. What are the pros and cons with this combination? I towed my 31' Sovereign about 600 miles when I picked it up from PO and I could hardly tell it was back there.
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Old 10-07-2004, 06:50 PM   #6
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Unhappy let me preface by saying I need bigger

but I have been towing the 25' since November with a 2001 Expedition (I believe the 150 truck base) 5.4 liter, 3.55. The next vehicle will definitely be bigger and stronger, this was purchased for a lighter sob. From Michigan I have gone South to Florida and North to Maine. I've had it floored at times and still only reached 35 mph on steeper grades. The majority of time there is no problem reaching highway speeds albeit slower in acceleration. The shorter wheel base and lack of power and weight has me white knuckling it in mind if not in actuality.

It's also precluding me from adding a generator, carrying the spare and a full tank of water.

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Old 10-07-2004, 07:11 PM   #7
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For two years we towed a 31' Excella with a 99 Tahoe, 4WD, 5.7 Litre 265 HP and 3.73 gears. We also had a Hensley hitch. Dry weight on the 31 was something like 7000 lbs. We were very overloaded but it's what we had and we used it. The Tahoe did a okay job for us. I never towed in overdrive and we could always run with the traffic up hill or down. The hook up was as stable as anything that we have had.

The brakes on the Tahoe were shot at 20,000 miles. Also spoke with a several people who had lost 4L60's and/or the ring gear and pinion in the rear axle while towing heavy with 1/2 ton Tahoes or Suburbans. At 30,000 miles I "chickened out" on the Tahoe and traded for a 3/4 Ton Crew Pickup. I liked the Tahoe but I LOVE my truck.

Here's to lots of fun times in your new CCD.

Lee #5474
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:20 PM   #8
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**Towing With 1/2 Ton?**

I once had a 150 that I towed our first A/S with. It was a 68 Safari; 22'. I had packed the wheel bearings on the trailer and I believe I might have over greased them. After traveling about 80 miles or so, I think the heat caused some of the grease to get onto my trailer brakes. If you can imagine what happens when that takes place, you probably will know how I felt when I tried to bring my ton truck to a stop with the trailer pushing from behind me. I almost rear ended someone but some how I got it stopped before I hit them. That was not a pleasant experience to say the least and one I won't forget.

IMHO, you need to have complete control of bringing your vehicle to a safe stop at all times. I believe if I had the truck then that I have now (1-ton dually) it would not have been as big of a problem. Each time I went to a larger tow vehicle I felt safer. After several years of towing I'll take the larger towing vehicle if given a choice.

There are many postings on this forum about towing. Do a search on towing and brakes and see what you can find. I would like to refer you to this thread where I posted about a near accident on the interstate. The way my vehicle was set up I believe had a lot to do with what happened. My posting is on page 2.

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Old 10-07-2004, 07:41 PM   #9
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I must live in another universe. I have towed a 28 foor Safari up and down reasonable mountains with and Expedition/Hensley. Again I say if your criteria are reasonable acceleration,good sway control, and good braking even without the trailer brakes, the Expedition worked OK. I have replaced the Expedition with an Armada and performance is even better. Now...I may not get 150,000 miles out of the rear end or transmission, but I do not keep a car/truck much moe that about 80,000 miles anyway.

I acknowledge that bigger is better , but at about 7000 lbs trailer weight(with load) I think that a 1/2 ton is enough.
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:48 PM   #10
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I don't have much of a different opinion than 'all of the above'. I have been towing trailers for over 20 years, my 1st real tow vehicle was a '72 Plymouth Fury-3 with the 360 c.i. in it...really I'm only 29 yrs. old!!!! Most everything since has been on a 1/2 ton (Am.) pick-up platform (some Vans & SUV's are based on these chassis). When we were only towing for a 'week-end' at the lake or shore & the once a year 2-3 'weeker' the 1/2 ton units are O.K. when set-up properly. Our latest T.V. is a 3/4 ton diesel crew cab. We are recently retired (early, still in mid 50's) & tow a much greater percentage of overall miles than ever before. The 3/4 ton P.U. with the diesel (or big block gas) is vastly superior in ALL respects to any of my 1/2 ton trucks.

You can get by with a 1/2 ton P.U., especially if it is intended to be used only occasionally, but IMHO if you can afford it the 3/4 ton offers so much more it is not's exponential!!
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Old 10-07-2004, 07:56 PM   #11
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Who's towing with a 1/2 ton?

Greetings wildwoodrver!

The two tow vehicles that I owned before my current Suburban were both 1/2-ton vehicles. One was acceptable ('84 AMC Jeep Grand Wagneer - - 360 AMC V8/4bbl/3.90 Differentials), the other was so underpowered that it was simply unacceptable ('95 Chevrolet K1500 Z-71 Club Cab pickup - - 5.7 Liter/3.73 Differentials) - - both trucks had the heavy duty trailer towing packages. The Jeep had 200,000 miles on ints odometer when it was traded, but the Chevrolet was so underpowered that it was traded at 45,000 miles.

I went to the 3/4-ton vehicle for my current tow vehicle for one reason - - power - - I was determined that I would have at least 7.0 liters + to insure adequate power with at least 4.0 differentials. I was always within 100-500 pounds of the GCVWR of my 1/2-ton vehicles with my 6,100 pound gross weight Overlander even with the factory heavy duty trailer towing packages. My fuel economy with the 7400 VORTEC and 4.10 differentials is actually equal (both solo and towing) to what I saw with the K1500 Chevrolet while a bit better (both solo and towing) than the Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The down-side if there is one, is that the hitch is a bit more difficult to get properly adjusted in the beginning due to the overly stiff rear suspension of the 3/4-ton verhicle - - once properly adjusted, the hitching process is no different. I currently have 135,000 miles on the '99 K2500 Suburban and have no regrets - - probably between 60% and 70% of the miles were towing one or the other of my two coaches - - I fully expect to run the Suburban to 300,000+ miles.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:35 PM   #12
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Again, "the biggest truck available" camp strikes again. Pa-lease! A 1/2 tonner properly equiped is more than enough for a 25' AS. A 6.0 engine will never even be tested pulling a 25', even over the Eisenhower tunnel. GMC agrees, as they frequently feature a Denali pulling a 25' AS in ads and articles. My 6.0 pulls my 30' Classic very nicely, thank you. Up the hills, passing other RVs and semis. Brakes are the same on mine as a 3/4 ton. Wheelbase is 174, which is in the exceptable range. I would say to get 4:10 gears if pulling something bigger than 25' but the 6.0 with 3:73 pulling a 25' would be fine. My tranny is HD same as the 3/4. I have a tranny cooler and gauge as stock. That tranny guage needle never moves, even on hills. My temp gauge doesn't move much either. You will do fine with a 1/2 tonner properly equiped.

But don't take my word for it. Read this thread:
Look at what Gerry says about his trip from Florida to Alaska and back pulling a 28' CCD. His last comment says it all: All in all a wonderful trip and it is my opinion that a stock Suburban (with a tow package) with two people taking a trip (not tons of luggage) and who are willing to take average speeds of 55 mph can go most anywhere they wish in North America.
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:37 PM   #13
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I tow with a 1/2 ton GMC with heavy duty springs in the rear. It has the 5.7 Vortex motor and 3.73 rear. I have had no problem with it, but the most part of my towing is on flat land. The only rough towing I have expereinced is over in Alabama on Lookout Mountain, but this is a very steep grade and everything towing anything has some difficulty there.

I would say that if your towing is to include areas with steep grades then you should consider the heaver package, 3/4 ton, larger motor and with 4.10 rear end gears. This is also true if you plan on traveling a lot. If your travels will be mostly flater land and limited to only 200 miles or so in one direction, then the 1/2 ton package will serve your needs.
Just adding my 2 worth

John G
1975 31ft Sovereign International
........Rear Bath Double Bed Model
Tow Vehicle:1999 GMC Serria SLE Classic 1500 5.7Ltr
System: Jordon 2020 Ultima Brake Controller
Hook-Up: Equalizing Hitch and Sway Bar
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Old 10-07-2004, 08:52 PM   #14
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Again, "the biggest truck available" camp strikes again.

big dee,

by pre 1998 standards your denali IS a 3/4 ton!

the old GM standard for "3/4" ton was 7200 lbs. your denali and my '00 silverado 2500HD are rated for 8600 lbs.

in 2001 GM upped the ante and made the 2500HD rated for 9200 gvw.

i plan on keeping my 'rado for quite a while, the longer life of the drivetrain, brakes, etc. was a primary reason for choosing a "3/4" ton over a "1/2" ton.

the three other trucks i have used to tow my trailer were half tons, good trucks. all chevys too.

but, my 2500 is a much better tow vehicle imho.


you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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