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Old 11-03-2010, 09:53 PM   #1
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1936 20' Clipper
, Pennsylvania
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 3
What now??

OK, so I'm new to Airstreams but not entirely new to towing. I have towed a 22 foot wakeboard boat and have plenty of RV experience with my 2009 Fleetwood Icon with Saturn Vue Toad...

BUT...I need help because I'm changing it up!

I just sold the class C and bought a 2010 Airstream International 28ft. My tow vehicle is a 2007 Chevy Suburban 5.3 V8 Flex Fuel.

The Airstream is just north of 7500lbs, unloaded, which fits within the Chevy's stated tow rating, but obviously we would be adding some weight with clothes and food, etc when we travel. I am fully aware that this is no F-350 Diesel...I know that towing would be sluggish, especially uphill, however, I have some questions:

1. Can this truck be used if I'm willing to put up with sluggish performance?
2. What sort of hitch apparatus do you guys recommend?
3. Are there any performance upgrades for Chevy 5.3 V8s that could increase towing performance?

Thanks in advance!


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Old 11-04-2010, 12:03 AM   #2
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1978 28' Ambassador
Morada , California
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,583
Congrats on you new AS' that model's a beauty!

According to the specs I saw listed on AS's site, the 28 Int'l is listed with a Unit Base Wt of 5583 lbs - that's 'unloaded', without water and your gear...

The GVWR is listed as 7300 lbs, which is indicative of the axle capacity (and proper weight rated tires) - that leaves you with about 1700 lbs for your 'stuff'...

The 28 is listed with a 950 lbs hitch weight, with the bare trailer - adding your stuff will add to that figure to some degree, depending on how you distribute your stuff, for & aft inside the AS...

With that 950 # tongue wt, you'll be needing a WD hitch that has bars with a capacity of at least 1000 lbs...we use an Equal-i-zer brand hitch with 1000# bars to pull our older 28ft AS, and it handles like a dream - of course we do have a long wheelbase Excursion, which helps...

Depending on the axle gearing in your TV, I wouldn't expect it to be all that sluggish on the flat lands, running normal 55-60 mph speeds - up in the hills you'll just have to sit back and relax, using some lower gears to get you over the top...

As to performance mods...well, that's ones personal choice, depending on the vehicle's warranty situation, etc...In reality, I haven't seen many actual 'modifications' that have returned meaningful increased performance, fuel savings, etc., when compared with the initial expense - again a personal preference...

If, for example, you what a mellower sounding exhaust tone, and are willing to foot the bill, that's all well & good, but don't expect any meaningful or noticeable performance or mileage improvement - IMHO...Sure there are exceptions, but I haven't seen many in the ranks of we 'non-diesel' users during these days of computer controlled vehicles...


Ray & Pat; Morada, CA
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Old 11-04-2010, 05:43 AM   #3
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Vintage Kin Owner
North central , Florida
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Best thing I did to my 5.3 is have a 4.10 rear gear installed. Even a 3.73 is a vast improvement over what maybe your current setup. It'll tow it just be careful and have fun! I have the 4 speed tranny, if you have the 6 speed the gearing may not have to be changed so radically. zz
1984 Avion 30p 9.1 meter. 2006 Dodge 3500 cummins srw short bed crew cab.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:03 AM   #4
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2009 27' FB Flying Cloud
1991 35' Airstream 350
Siloam Springs , Arkansas
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Posts: 1,490
I would load the trailer with the gear most likely to be permanent, and find a set of scales. This will be a much better idea of true weight than the book.

A good weight-distributing hitch with anti-sway will make a more comfortable drive. Asking questions about the exact hitch to buy here on the forums will provide you with more input than you can imagine. I found one I like, it matches my abilities, and provides the degree of comfort I want. Some may prefer more or less.

There lots of folks towing big trailers with ton 'burbs, and are just fine.

Best Regards,
Jeff & Cindy
Hunter RIP

'09 27FB Flying Cloud
'91 350 LE MH
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Old 11-04-2010, 07:23 AM   #5
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1991 34' Excella
Princeton , New Jersey
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Changing the rear gear ration is the best thing you can do to improve the towing.

That can be done 2 ways. Change the gear set in the rear or install a Gear vendors system on the trans. Years ago I went the GV route on a Suv 1/2 ton set up as an overdrive with 3.73 rear axle gears. The reason for using it as an overdrive was the truck had a 700R4 trans and that trans was not recommended to be used for towing in the trans OD. This set up gave me 8 gears forward of which I only used 1st, 2nd, 2nd OD, 3rd, and 3rd OD while towing. When not towing, here in the Jersey flat lands, I had 4th and 4th OD for MPG.
2004 Excursion 4x4
1991 34 ft. Excella +220,000 miles, new laminated flooring, new upholstery, new 3200 lbs axles

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Old 11-04-2010, 12:09 PM   #6
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1971 27' Overlander
Antlers , Oklahoma
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 426
I have pulled my 27 foot Overlander with my 06 GMC. Your TT is heavier than mine and I do not know what rear end you have in your burb. Mine is 3.73 and it towed just fine thru the Kiamichi Mountains. I think it is personal preference on weather you are happy with the sluggist performance. You will definately need a weight distribution hitch and anti-sway bars. Make sure they are for your weight of trailer and make sure whever you buy it you let them know you have an Airstream. The place I bought my hitch from - when I said Airstream - they looked at each other and said they are a different type of animal as far as towing. I got the lowest rated hitch and bars they had and the bars are still too heavy. They are 1000# and I need to go down to 800#. I went with the Equal-i-zer E2 so supposlt (according to the manufacturer) it is not really necessary for the lighter bars but I am going to do it anyway. Make sure that the hitch is set up correctly because you can beat and Airstream into submission with too much hitch, tow vehicle or both. IMHO

As far as the rest of the prople here - let it go. The rant post is closed so close it. The person is here for help, so lets help.

2006 GMC 1500 SLE Crew Cab
5.3L V8 Towing Package
Equal-i-zer E2

AIR # 40365
TAC # OK-3
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Old 11-04-2010, 12:14 PM   #7
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1936 20' Clipper
, Pennsylvania
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Thanks all! Very helpful stuff.
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Old 11-04-2010, 01:17 PM   #8
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Fenton , Missouri
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One other thing to check out is to read your Chevy's manual regarding towing and whether you can use OD. I know my half ton Chevy van said no OD. My current 3/4 ton GMC says OD is okay as long as the tranny isn't doing frequent hunting. Finally consider an external transmission cooler if you already don't have one.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 11-04-2010, 04:53 PM   #9
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1973 31' Excella 500
Spring Green , Wisconsin
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 265
My Dodge Ram has Flex Fuel. When the gas prices were high a couple years ago I used the E85 and noticed that my mileage dropped by more than 25%. Since I wasn't towing anything at the time, I don't know if power was significantly reduced or not. But, you may want to experiment with it just in case.

I will say that my AS tows significantly easier than my 14 foot covered utility trailer.

Lew TAC #WI-6
Nobody can help everybody, but everybody can help somebody.
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chevy, hitch, international, towing

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