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Old 06-17-2010, 12:43 PM   #1
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1984 34' Excella
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will this pull my airstream?????

Does anyone know if a chevy van with a 350cui motor is powerful enough to pull a 34 footer!? Please say "yes" even if you have to lie!
Thank you.....

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Old 06-17-2010, 12:45 PM   #2
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OK, for real, need more info. Exactly what van model? Lot's more than just engine goes into the equation.......

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Old 06-17-2010, 01:11 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by lana64 View Post
Does anyone know if a chevy van with a 350cui motor is powerful enough to pull a 34 footer!? Please say "yes" even if you have to lie!
Thank you.....
It will pull it. I'm not sure how well, but it will move it along.

Now to be serious... I had a 2000 GMC 3/4 ton van with a 5.0L. It pulled my 20 footer, just not uphills very well. It was all in the rear end gears - the van had some ridiculous full-economy gears that worked fine on the flat and level but sucked on the hills. I replaced that van with a '99 Suburban with a 5.7L and 3.73 gears - MUCH better....
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:12 PM   #4
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Diesel? Yes. Maybe in the mountains depending on rear end, torque, etc.
Gasoline? Yes. In the mountains, loaded etc. etc.......not to well unless turbo charged or modified significantly.
Good luck however and enjoy the Summer.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #5
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If it's a 1500 (half ton) you don't stand a chance!

I had a 1500 Chevy Express and towed a 3000 lb motorcycle trailer for 3 summers cross country. It was OK on the flats but suffered on the hills...and that was ONLY 3000 LBS!!!

Your rear end and transmission will definitely NOT be up to the job. My trans went out at 34,000 miles (with a cooler installed). Luckily, it was still under warranty and was re-built for $100. I wouldn't tow a trailer as heavy as yours with anything other than a specially equipped vehicle (think Can AM in Canada) or a 3/4 ton Suburban or pick-up, 1-ton van or similar vehicle.
Lew Farber...RVIA Certified Master Tech...ABYC Certified Master Marine Electrician
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:05 PM   #6
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There are three models of the Chevy Express van, the 1500, the 2500 and the 3500. What will help is telling us the specific model, year and other relevant vehicle information. Just like with the Silverado and other Chevy/GM products, the capacity of the vehicles go up with the numbers. As noted, a 2500 is more capable than a 1500 (generally) and a 3500 is more capable than a 2500.

The 350 is a fine engine, but it's ability to tow is related directly to the drivetrain, in particular, the gearing of the rear differential (the "pumpkin" you see in the middle of your rear axle). Think of a 10-speed bicycle. If you shift the bicycle down, you can pump your legs fast but you move pretty slow. A vehicle works the same way. A taller geared rear end (like the 4.10 in my vintage Dodge truck) is not good for going fast... but it's great for towing.

Oh, and it's a lot better to get a good answer here than a bad answer on the highway. Post some of the information on the Chevy van and you'll get some help.
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:54 PM   #7
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Interesting to note that the 1984 34' Excella only weighs 6350 pounds dry. A 2009 25' FB Classic weighs almost that much (5900#).
The van might be able to do it--just depends on how it is equipped.
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:16 PM   #8
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No. No lie. Your home base is Big Sur. Obviously you will not want or be able to pull 34' south on HWY 1. If you travel north or east to the valley it will be quite a burden on your van and nerves. Suburban with at least a 454 or diesel is what you will need. You need to consider all the weight that you would be carrying the trailer AND the van.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:53 PM   #9
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If you do - its gonna be a poke going up those big hills - and in the summer with temps up you might have some bigger issues.

Let us know what model you have along with the gears and the condition of the cooling system, tow package (does it have one), etc....

Nothing wrong going slow up the hills - as long as you don't over heat and are ready for the experience...
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Old 06-18-2010, 01:16 PM   #10
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I had a Yukon with a 350 and 3:42 gears to pull with prior to the Duramax Diesel.
In the flats it would do ok up to about 60 more.
Start up a hill and it was gear down to 2nd, hold rpms at 3000 and 40 mph up the hill....completely anemic performance with a 31 ft trailer. I can't imagine how bad it would be with a 34 footer.

Will it tow it?...yes it will move it.
Safely at highway speeds up hills?....NO WAY.
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Old 06-28-2010, 02:56 PM   #11
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it really depends on what year of 350 it is, and what your rear end ratio is, also you can give your 350 some help.

Upgrading to a K&N filter, upgrading your ignition, and chipping your engine will make a world of difference. Also if you have a half ton, see if you can find a 14 bolt semi floater 6 lug, they came in light duty 3/4 tons and van's it is a more stout axle, and you can get it geared to what ever ratio you will need. If you run 4.10's you will get it done on the hills, if you run 3.73's you will be able to pick up some speed on the highway.

In the tow rig im building i am currently having a 327 built for it it is based on a 350 block and a TBI system, it should be good for about 400hp with big block injectors.

It is really all relative to what equipment you have in on and behind the 350.
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:44 AM   #12
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as someone who is currently towing a 26 foot AS (dry weight just under 2 ton according to the chart) with a van... here's my 2 cents:

if it ain't at least a 2500, don't even think about it.

we currently haul with a 1995 GMC conversion van (2500) with the 350 in it. it's good enough, but i miss the truck. :-/

if it's a 1500, not only will the tranny and gears not be up to it, the suspension won't be either.

like everyone else said, tho, if its a 2500 or 3500, and depending on the setup, it is entirely possible and doable.... but be careful
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Old 07-28-2010, 01:58 PM   #13
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the 5.7L with a 4.10 axle will pull it...not very well. You really need a bit larger engine and a 3/4 ton vehicle.

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Old 07-29-2010, 04:55 PM   #14
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I'm going to disagree with the 5.7/4.10 not pulling well. The old Dodge has a 318 which converts to 5.21 liters. With the 4.10, it will pull stumps but it doesn't have much top end speed.

The 350 (which is around 5.74 liters) can be a decent motor... and you have a ton of options for giving the 350 some giddyup. And plenty of 3/4-ton trucks have sub-400 inch motors. The big advantage of the 3/4 or 1 ton is the heavier running gear, bigger brakes, etc. That's why finding out if the van is a 1500, 2500 or 3500 is key. Personally, at 34' (even vintage) is a long trailer with (potentially) a good deal of weight. I'd be thinking something with plenty of vehicle weight, plenty of wheel base and probably diesel. Just my thought.

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