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Old 09-11-2010, 08:26 PM   #15
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Emerson75's Avatar
1975 25' Tradewind
Hanover , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 80
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I'm certainly far from an expert, but I can speak from experience just this past weekend, when we crossed over two mountain ranges with 7 and 10 grades respectfully, both having only a single lane each direction. Having roughly 8 years of small camper (17', 23', 25') towing experience and a relatively small amount of experience with towing on steep grades I can tell you on our trip to the campground this past week I had white knuckles, but after making some adjustments on our return trip home, it was soooo much easier and less stressful.

I have a '05 Tahoe that has less than stunning brakes even without a trailer (IMHO), and a '75 25' Tradewind which comes in at around ~5,000-5,500 lbs loaded, and has new axles/brakes.

On our trip out, I had the Tahoe in tow mode which shifts slightly different and prevents OD from engaging. On the descents, I controlled our speed solely with the brakes which means I pretty much rode them the entire time. I tried to leave off the brakes as much as possible, to limit the brake fade, but the grade didn't allow for much time off the brakes. By the time I got to the bottom of the 10 grade, my Tahoe's dash was saying "Service Stability", and I had a VW Jetta about 6" off my bumper the entire way down, not fun. I had to pull over and shutoff the engine just to clear the dash error.

Anyhow, on the way home, I manually down shifted to second gear, the transmission walked us down the grade at around 35-40mph, with limited braking required. It was an amazing difference.

I would recommend (as other have already) toying with manually downshifting to a gear (second or third) that yields roughly the speed you're after, which will limit the amount of braking required, and make for a much more stable decent.

Good luck,

Eric, Stacey, Easton, Annabelle, Gretzky (boxer), & George Bailey (basset hound)
1975 Tradewind - Family owned and operated since 1975
2005 Chevy Tahoe Z71
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Old 09-11-2010, 08:51 PM   #16
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1968 28' Ambassador
Cedaredge , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,542
This is all sound advice and anything I would add would just be a repeat. But I do have to comment on not worrying what is behind you.

I disagree with this statement. I have been behind plenty of slow moving TV that had a chance to pull over and let me and others by and didn't. In Colorado It is illegal not to pull over when holding up traffic on most mountain roads. It is also illegal to drive in the left lane except when passing.

I little common sense goes a long way here. If I am holding up even one car I will pull over when I can, or slow down on a straight away to let them pass. Common decency is what I call it. I hate it when a TV doesn't do it for me...


May you have at least one sunny day, and a soft chair to sit in..

2008 5.7 L V8 Sequoia
AIR # 31243
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Old 09-13-2010, 01:54 AM   #17
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1975 25' Tradewind
Woodland , California
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 6
running grades

There is an easy solution to handling steep downgrades. I drive 299 west of Redding, California frequently. This is a two laner with passing lanes on the uphill side, very twisty with several 20-25 mph curves, and about a 5-6% grade. My tow vehicle is a Ford F250 Diesel without the tow/haul tranny and I tow several different trailers, the heaviest being my 25' Tradewind Safari, about 5500 lbs.

You definitely want to have your brake controller dialed in properly. Use your gears, auto or manua, to descend. I can keep the speed around 35 in second on this entire grade, only using the brakes for the sharpest curves, and for pullouts to let traffic by. The proper solution, at least for a diesel, would be to install an exhaust brake, for optimum braking performance. But gears work too. Engine braking is much more efficient than friction and it leaves your wheel brakes cooler for when they are actually necessary. When it really requires your attention is when the road surface is wet or snow covered. I haven't towed the AS in those conditions on this or similar grades, but I have towed a woodhauling trailer with 4000 lbs of wood in it and weather means slow way down, 10 mph or more under what you would use in good weather.

As for the tailgaters, ignore them. Pull over when it's safe for you to do so, not when it might be convenient for them. That means no short pullouts unless you intend to stop fully. If you try to use a short pullout w/o stopping, invariably there will be drivers who will try to squeeze you at the end of the pullout. Better to wait for a safer pullout - that way everyone makes it down in one piece, if not always happy.

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