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Old 09-24-2002, 11:33 AM   #1
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introduction // need help deciding tow vehicle

This is my first ever post regarding anything Airstream!

I am the very lucky receipient of a 1977 Trade Wind (I think) hand-me-down. My grandfather bought his '77 new and has babied it over the years and he is now going to hand it down to me. I have only had second hand conversations with my mother about this trailer since my grandfather has been travelling in his other, smaller trailer so I'm absent a lot of specifics. I know it's a '77 and it's 25 feet so according to my research it should be a Trade Wind (is it Tradewind or Trade Wind?).

This will my growing family's first rv. We've been avid tent campers and are really really excited about this trailer. All our friends are starting to have babies and have converted from tent campers to rv's and it's time for us to do the same if you know what I mean.

So my question. I've been wanting a new truck for so long now and now I have the perfect reason to make it happen! I'm going to get the Silverado 2500HD Crew Cab but need help deciding on the engine/tranny. I would love to have the duramax/allison combination but I don't think I need it and don't really want to pay the $5500 extra for it if I don't have to. Will the 6.0L V8 and 4:10's be enough for me? Am I going to be kicking myself for not getting the deisel when going up the moderate mountain passes we have here in Washington? What kind of speed do you think I can hold with this setup going up an average mountain grade? What do other folks use to pull their 25 footers of this age? Airstream web site FAQ says the trailer is ~4100lbs unloaded.

I can of course wait to speak with my grandfather but I've really got this stuck on the brain... I'm sure you can relate...

-jm
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Old 09-24-2002, 12:05 PM   #2
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jm, I have a 25' Safari with UVW 4850 and I tow it with a half ton Silverado with the 5.3, 300hp gasoline engine. It is quite comfortable in most situations but I spend a considerable amount of time in the Sierras and it really strains to get over some of the higher passes. I believe the diesel engine is less susceptible to 'altitude sickness' so my next truck will be the 2500 HD with Duramax and Allison. I also believe you can never have too much tow vehicle.
Enjoy your new toy.
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Old 09-24-2002, 12:55 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by gwsullivan
I believe the diesel engine is less susceptible to 'altitude sickness'.
That's the turbo... when the air gets thinner and becomes less of a resistance, it just spins faster and winds up packing about the same amount of air in as it did at lower altitude.
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Old 09-24-2002, 02:21 PM   #4
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JM,
I tow my Tradewind with a 92 Dodge Van. It does fine with it's 3.91 rear end and the ancient TBI 5.9l V8. I imagine a modern 6.0 V8 with over 300hp might just rip the tongue right off the Airstream. At extreme altitudes a turbo might be of advantage, but please consider how often you need this vs.the extra cost. Your original choice sounds like a great option to me, having towed my Tradewind comfortably with my anemic Dodge Van.
I would make sure to have the extra trans cooler, trailer plug to fit the Airstream, and brake controller etc. installed when buying the truck.
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Old 09-24-2002, 06:15 PM   #5
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Save the $5500 and use it on the outfitting of your "New" trailer. (Thank your Gran'pappy alot)

The Silverado 6.0 2500 HD 4.10 is one of the best looking, running rigs on the market today for pulling trailers (and boats) of the size you have. If I were trading my 1995 Siverado 5.7 in today, that is what I would drive away with. I have ridden in 2 of them this last week and was very impressed. One of them we were pulling a 4 horse trailer w/ horses and it drove and pulled with little effort.

The HD series is very trailer ready. Bigger brakes, all the coolers, 7/4 pin connector, brake controller wiring....all ready to GO GO GO!

I am looking out my window at work right now and there are 4 of them in the parking lot right now. Its driving me crazy!!!

Get it quick before we start arguing about it here !

From the Heartbeat of America (Texas)
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Old 09-24-2002, 08:08 PM   #6
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I have a '01 2500HD in extended cab configuration. The 8.1 gas engine and Allison 5 sp. auto transmission, 3.73 rear end tows my '77 31' Excella 500 without a problem. I'm still running the LT245-75-16 tires. If I had to do it again I would order the 4.10 rear and go to the LT265-75-16 tires. Part of it has to do with looks of the tire within the wheelwells.

I get 15.3 mpg highway at 60 mph and around 14.7 at 70 without AC. In town with AC is usually 10. Towing on highway is around 13 or so without AC.

I'm giving you this info because some people feel that the 20 mpg towing is worth the extra front end cost of the diesel. If I had the extra money I would have gone Duramax and I am not a diesel person. Bear in mind that I am talking a 31' max wt. 8100 trailer which usually is weighing less than 7,000 lbs as I tow it now. Only reason for you to go to diesel is if you plan to trade up to a heavier trailer later. You have already said you did not want to spend the money so it is between the 6.0 with the 4 sp. auto transmission and the 8.1 with 5 sp auto. I have heard that the 6.0 and 8.1 get the same towing mpg but cannot confirm this. If getting 18 mpg when not towing is important to you than get the 6.0. If you want the better 5 sp. Allison, and it is better, go with the 8.1 which is loaded with power. Last, think rear end ratio. A 3.73 will be fine with your trailer because it is fine with my 31' but if you plan on buying taller tires, you might consider the 4.10. That is my take on the situation. I love my truck!
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Old 09-26-2002, 05:06 PM   #7
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Thank you all for sharing your first-hand experience and opinions. After reading your replies I felt very confident that the 6.0 would meet my needs but there was one thing that seemed to continue to bother me. I do intend to upgrade to the 285/75's which would leave my 6.0 at about 3.80 axle ratio which makes me nervous. I don't want to kick myself every time I'm going over the Cascades wishing I had more power. So rather than continue to worry about it I'll part with the $1700 extra for the bigger engine/tranny. I opted to bump up to the 8.1L/Allison with 4:10. With the taller tires I'll end up exactly where Craig said he wanted to be... back near the 3.73 ratio with larger tires and the more powerful engine.

Thanks again for your help. I received a letter from my "Paw" on the 25' Trade Wind. He's on the road but did send me a 6-page letter describing the trailer. It's been used twice since 1995 and has been under cover for the duration! He says it's in great shape mechanically but I'll have the cosmetic things to deal with. I've been reading up on the flooring posts here as well as the 'how to make the twin beds into a double...' posts.

I'm sure I'll have a million questions as time goes on. I hope I can return the favors someday.

-jm
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Old 09-26-2002, 05:20 PM   #8
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jm,
The 6.0 is a better towing engine with the 4.10 so you are making a wise choice with the 8.1 and 4.10 offset by taller tires. I'm sure you will be happy. JET makes a speedo correction device and some of the other manufacturers are trying to upgrade their 8.1 modules to include the Allison shift point changes. It shouldn't be too far off. Before getting into this you need to visit www.pickuptrucks.com and go to the Chevy trucks section. Post an inquiry about updated modules from SuperChip, Hypertech and others to see if the Allison changes have been included yet.
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Old 09-29-2002, 08:42 AM   #9
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We tow a '96 Excella 25' with a 2000 Yukon XL. Yukon is equipped with 6.0 and Allison Transmission with Tow/Haul Mode Selection and 3.73 rear end (4.10 eats a lot of gas and Yukon is my main vehicle as well). It is plenty for the 25' Excella. Previous advice to save the $5500 and put it (invest it) in your Airstream. Then, down the road you have the option to trade both in on bigger Airstream and Duramax.

Best,
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Old 09-29-2002, 06:39 PM   #10
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my 6.0 has towed my trailer for almost 3 years, i have 4.10 gears i like it very much! if you get a big block you won't be unhappy!
plus you'll get another gear.

john
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