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Old 04-06-2006, 12:39 PM   #1
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(Another) Grand Cherokee thread

Hey all,

Attached is a picture of our newly inherited 1973 Excella 500. We picked the camper up in Wildwood New Jersey and dragged it back to Virginia via Rte 13 down the Eastern Shore.

We accepted this camper thinking that we would get another tow vehicle immediately.

Unfortunately, we soon found out that the cost of our to-do list of repairs required on the trailer and the cost a new tow vehicle quickly exceeded our budget.

So, the wife and I had a long talk. We could either dump $30 to $40 thousand in the trailer and another $20 to $30 in a tow vehicle for a total of $50 to $70 thousand...or, we can go out and buy a new trailer for much less *and* keep our current tow vehicle.

So, we are considering the 25' Safari Six Sleeper. The Jeep had absolutely no problem towing the Excella, but I feel a 25-footer is about as big as I want to consistently tow. I was only getting about 10 mpg, but such is the price you pay for towing a big aluminum tube around.

The Jeep in the picture is a 2004 Grand Cherokee Columbia Edition with the 4.7L High Output V-8 (265 HP). I have an after-market electric brake control next to the steering wheel. I am going to replace the current passenger tires and replace them with light truck tires for an added measure of stability and replace the air handler with a K&N Filter Charger.

So, if anybody has any words of wisdom, I would love to hear them! This forum has been a great source of info in the past and am looking forward to your replies.

Brian
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:47 PM   #2
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I'm sure others will argue this, but personally I have known so many people who had trouble with their cherokees, were unhappy with them, and eventually got rid of them, that I would not base my plans around the tow vehicle. Tow vehicles come and go, but you can buy an Airstream and pass it down to your grandkids!

I say pick the AS you want to keep, and then find the right truck to tow it with.
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Old 04-06-2006, 12:49 PM   #3
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Axles on the Excella look shot.

The GC really isn't a good choice for a TV for the Excella. Additionally, it's gonna be most likely be the same or worse with a new 25' SS (older units weighing less than newer units, though the new 25s weight about as much as the Excella you have). Adding more robusts tires is really only a small part of it.

You could in fact sell both on eBay, get a 1 or 2 year old Safari 6 Sleeper and with the extra $$ get a 2-3 year old Suburban, Silverado, or some other truck than a unibody, short wheelbase SUV.

Not sure what the best answer for you would be in terms of buy, sell or trade, but either way, unless yer talking 19' at the high end of the scale, the GC should be replaced.
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:00 PM   #4
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hi vinob'

thanks for posting the picture....

it does take some cash to freshen an older trailer.....
but 30k seems very high....
without knowing what needs repaired versus what would be nice to improve.

folks love their cgcjeeps but a new 25 safari is gonna weight 7300lbs which is too much for the jeep....really.

why not brainstorm here,
with the list of issues your current trailer has or needs fixed.
post more pics and so on.....
it's free and you might get some new ideas and options....
that help ya save $$ and solve the dilemma


i agree with stef.....
find or build the trailer you love....and then get the horses to tow it.

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:22 PM   #5
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Thanks, everybody.

Here's what's wrong with the trailer:

1) Black water tank is actually detached and has broken through the belly skin, causing a huge 4-foot wide gap to open up, exposing the insulation, etc.
2) Both axles are bent
3) None of the vent fans work
4) A/C on its last legs

That's just the big stuff.

I think my wife and I are starting to see the writing on the wall: need a better tow vehicle.

Would a pickup like an F-150 do the trick on a 25' SS Safari? They build 'em right here in town, so they're a dime a dozen.

She really wants to keep the Jeep (it's her other baby), so I'd like for her to do so.
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Old 04-06-2006, 02:41 PM   #6
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The worst thing you listed IMHO might just be the axles. Of course interior fabrics, carpets, etc, they all add up. But if that's the worst you have, it looks great from the outside. A/C if it works, you have no power issue. A new A/C could run ya between $400 and $700 depending on size, etc.

Vents, if they are just dead, pretty cheap to fix, unless it's an electrical problem.

Dropping the pan and fixing the tank, though a major PITA, not really the end of the world.

The one thing on my mind is how the axles got bent and did that bending cause the tank damage....if that is the case, what else has been knocked out of wack, frame, shell, etc. Dropping the pan will expose how bad the damage under it is. If there is not a lot of damage, then you could be talking maybe $10 to $15k depending on what else inside you had to repair, replace, refresh.

As for the F-150, it should be able to pull a 25' SS if you load it lightly. I think you'd need the 5.4L and 4.10s to get the higher capacity. The 25' will weight 7300lbs loaded and that's pretty close to the max of the F-150 (though getting the longer wheelbase seems to up the ante). Really, the 25' loaded starts to get into F-250 territory, but if you're not going into the mountains regularly, and are careful, the F-150 would be light years better then the GC, even though I'd feel better with an F-250 or equiv.
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Old 04-06-2006, 02:53 PM   #7
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All axles are bent, they're made that way with a bend in the middle. Are these bent somewhere else or damaged, for sure?

John
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:05 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AYRSTRM2
All axles are bent, they're made that way with a bend in the middle. Are these bent somewhere else or damaged, for sure?

John
I did not know that. They're bent in the middle.
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
As for the F-150, it should be able to pull a 25' SS if you load it lightly. I think you'd need the 5.4L and 4.10s to get the higher capacity. The 25' will weight 7300lbs loaded and that's pretty close to the max of the F-150 (though getting the longer wheelbase seems to up the ante). Really, the 25' loaded starts to get into F-250 territory, but if you're not going into the mountains regularly, and are careful, the F-150 would be light years better then the GC, even though I'd feel better with an F-250 or equiv.
So, something like a Suburban 2500 would do the trick?

I want a pickup, the wife wants an SUV. Guess who's going to win that battle.

BTW...thanks to everybody for the info.
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinoblanco
So, something like a Suburban 2500 would do the trick?

I want a pickup, the wife wants an SUV. Guess who's going to win that battle.

BTW...thanks to everybody for the info.
They always do....and I never quite figured out how that happens.

Yes, a 2500 Suburban better do it....I've got that and a 25' SS. I went with the 4.10 gears too. If you are talking 2000 and up, the 6.0L should be fine. The 8.1L might be a bit much, but no one ever said too much was a bad thing when towing. Day to day the 8.1L will eat a bit more dead dinosaurs. I'd look 8.1L if you think you'll upgrade to larger than a 28 (newer Airstream). Be careful though, early 2000 through about 2003 and some 2004 had a noticable piston slap issue on colder startups.....you can read about that here:

www.pistonslap.com

The key is to start it like it was the first start of the day, and listen for a diesel type sound.

If there is a bend in the middle, that is normal (sort of like a very slight arch type look), but looking at the wheels in the wheel well, it looks pretty sunk down. I would not be shocked if they were prime candidates for replacement torsion axles, but again, so far what you've said as the major items on the Excella don't seem all that expensive....in a matter of speaking, and far less than I think your original guesstimate may have been. The outside shell looks good from that one side...not sure what that one square patch is (could be the water heater, but my eyes aren't that great anymore... but oveall looks sharp (from the side I can see).

This isn't a rear bath unit is it? Looks like you have vista view windows on the rear.....is it a side bath? Does it have a dinette too or just a couch?
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Old 04-06-2006, 04:56 PM   #11
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We still have our GC Limited but it did not do well towing our 2002 25' Classic....it pulled/trailed OK but I had to do "crazy ????" (forgot what you call it when you have to swerve to see out back).......

Also the dealer was murmuring about not covering the transmission. Were stupid here and bought the AWD that takes special oil and costs $400 every 12,000 miles.....

The Jeep now goes only to the grocery store and Brenda drives it to her hair salon.

Jeeps are nice; we like the engine....I can beat most anything here in Oro Valley at the go light. BUT towing the Airstream it was sluggish.
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Old 04-06-2006, 06:01 PM   #12
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Vinoblanco

Greetings
Maybe I can help with the axles, I live in Norfolk. The axle tubes are bent in the middle to adjust the toe and camber(to make sure that the wheel is pointed straight down the road and vertical). We can check both with a few simple tools if you like.
I have only had my 84 Excella a year this month but there are basics of vehicle geometry that do not change.
Let me know.
Jim
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Old 04-06-2006, 09:14 PM   #13
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well vinoblanco......

look what happens..

just post a few issues and folks jump right in to help...

yes the axles are bent normally and with someone volunteering to help inspect them...that problemo gets smaller.....

the trailer does look to be sitting low....like the rubber inside the torsen axles is fatigued....but this can be checked also....

replacing the running gear can bring a trailer back to life....

most of what you listed (tanks, running gear, fans) is very doable by owners....but you might wanna go camping NOW!

so you & the wife may have already set your sites on a new trailer....and that's great too.....the 25ss is a nice unit.

keep posting picks and the issues on the current unit...
more answers will be offered for each issue....
and even if you've decided to buy a new one....
posting may just find ya a buyer for that stray dog...

while big suvs have become more car like....so too have trucks.....

the new f-150s have the nicest interiors of any 1/2 tons......imo.
they drive great and the crew cab has a load of room....with a separate space outside the cab to keep dirty things....and supplies.


the f150 and the dodge durango handle better in everyday use than a 3/4 ton suburban or excursion....or anything 3/4 size....

and dodge now has that truck with the supersized cab......in is cavernous!

so before your wife gets her teeth into an suv......go drive a lariat f150 or the kings ranch edition .....these are mighty nice.

clearly there are good reasons to tow with an suv or van,
but trucks with or without a shell are more versatile for towing, camping and so on...
the bed greatly increases storage....a limitations with airstreams...

cheers
2air'
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Old 04-07-2006, 04:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
I want a pickup, the wife wants an SUV. Guess who's going to win that battle.
vinoblanco in a silverado, almost rhymes.

go for the truck if you can, put a topper on it and tell the wife it is now a suv!

seriously, if your going used and you keep your trailer get a 3/4 ton. trucks cost less than suburbans and you can use it for more things. hauling lumber whatever.

i towed with half tons for years. then i got my 2500HD silverado, hands down the best tow vehicle i have ever used.

no regrets.

john
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:23 AM   #15
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I currently tow a 2002 25 ft Safari SS with a 1999 Grand Cherokee 4.7 with Goodrich LT tires. The trailer actually weighs 6500 # fully loaded, including a couple of sewing machines and clothes for full timing. It is the LS version with corian and all the goodies. I don't understand where the 7300# estimates came from.

That said, the Cherokee, the Cherokee is a bit borderline in the mountains, but the comfort and ease of entry and exit makes up for what it lacks. It is approaching 100,000 miles without any major troubles. I do use the best of fluids everywhere, and change them frequently.

A comment was made about changing to K & N filter. Before you do, take a look at
http://home.usadatanet.net/~jbplock/ISO5011/SPICER.htm
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Old 04-07-2006, 10:48 AM   #16
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Hi Vinablanco--A solution to your tow vehicle quandry (she wants an SUV, he wants a pickup) might be a 3/4 ton Chevy Avalanche. Also don't be too quick to give up on the A/S you have. If you are at all handy, you should be able to put it in usable shape for not too much $, and then like a house it becomes a series of up grades over time. Happy A/Sing.--Frank S
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Old 04-07-2006, 12:40 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmickle
I don't understand where the 7300# estimates came from.
The axles were upgraded across most of the lines sometime during the 2005 model year. The older Safaris that were pre change were in fact 6300lb GVWR. However, post change, the Safari Six Sleeper in particular, now has a 7300 GVWR. So now there is even more NCC (net carrying capacity) for all the extra items one might want to haul with them.
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Old 04-07-2006, 05:21 PM   #18
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Hello Vinoblanco -- Isn't is something how events roll through our lives and voila, you end up trying to find something to tow a 31-footer. There are frequent threads about "what can tow what?" in the Forums. The SUV to pull an Airstream thread did touch on the Cherokee and a few other models. I think you're getting a lot of good advice here.
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Old 04-07-2006, 06:24 PM   #19
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Brian we are right in your backyard along with at least 8 other airstream owners. Would love to hear from you. My 92 Jeep inline 6 is rated at 5,000 lbs I would think your V8 should be able to handle the load, if not there are pleanty of two vehicles out there that will do a good job.
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Old 04-07-2006, 07:04 PM   #20
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hello VinoBlanco ,

just came across this discussion . thought I may weigh in on this. Your jeep is outmatched in the photo no doubt about it . just look at it . I believe that it could pull it down the road . But a sudden stop or quick manuever could out it in the ditch right quick. I know that you are considering a bigger tow vehical an the 25 ftr . definatly the 2500 hd would be more than enough for the 25r . would be great for the excella. Do you have to buy a brand new truck to pull either coach? having to put 30 or 40 grand into the excella seems high but it may need the full monty . The deal concerning K&N filters is this .The oil that you spray onto the filter media to help filtration , will and does get airborne into the intake airstream ,small tiny particulates coat the hot wire meaning the heated wire inside the mass airflow sensor and fouls the signal to the pcm . causes poorer mileage . Your v8 jeep can pull the 25r fine . You wont be able to race up the hills like the diesel will do though. And always remember when your towing what is being towed . good luck!!
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