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Old 03-06-2007, 07:44 PM   #1
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I've seen a few discussion on this topic already, but I am still unclear. I have a Suburban (LT-1500 1/2 ton, 3.42 axle ratio, 130" wheel base). The book says it can handle 7200lbs. Using the 80% rule, that puts me at 5760 for a loaded trailer weight. If anyone disagrees with this logic, please let me know - I'm all ears.

But then the question of length comes in. I have been looking at some ultra-lights (made by Keystone) that are just over 30' in length, that weigh in at a nimble 4580lbs. My thought is that the weight is fine, but I'm concerned about the length. Using the "rule of thumb", my 130 inch wheel base is only capable of towing a 25' trailer (110inch for a 20' trailer, then 4 inches for each additional foot of trailer). But, then I see all these happy campers on various forums that are pulling 30 foot trailers with their 1500 Suburbans, and they say it handles well.

While I'd like to hear that I can handle the 30' length, I'd appreciate as many honest opinions as possible on this subject. I have been towing a 23' trailer very comfortably, but I don't know if the 30' would be pushing me beyond a reasonable measure of safety (assuming I put a quality weight distribution hitch and sway controller on it). Thoughts???

Respectfully,
Dave
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Old 03-06-2007, 07:44 PM   #2
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I've seen a few discussion on this topic already, but I am still unclear. I have a Suburban (LT-1500 1/2 ton, 3.42 axle ratio, 130" wheel base). The book says it can handle 7200lbs. Using the 80% rule, that puts me at 5760 for a loaded trailer weight. If anyone disagrees with this logic, please let me know - I'm all ears.

But then the question of length comes in. I have been looking at some ultra-lights (made by Keystone) that are just over 30' in length, that weigh in at a nimble 4580lbs. My thought is that the weight is fine, but I'm concerned about the length. Using the "rule of thumb", my 130 inch wheel base is only capable of towing a 25' trailer (110inch for a 20' trailer, then 4 inches for each additional foot of trailer). But, then I see all these happy campers on various forums that are pulling 30 foot trailers with their 1500 Suburbans, and they say it handles well.

While I'd like to hear that I can handle the 30' length, I'd appreciate as many honest opinions as possible on this subject. I have been towing a 23' trailer very comfortably, but I don't know if the 30' would be pushing me beyond a reasonable measure of safety (assuming I put a quality weight distribution hitch and sway controller on it). Thoughts???

Respectfully,
Dave
Confused in Wisconsin
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Old 03-07-2007, 03:15 AM   #3
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I used to pull a 25' TT with a Chevy Tahoe 5.7 and a 3:42 rear end. It was a little unconfortable but the final decission came when I installed a tranny temp gauge. The tranny heated up almost to the red on a 1 hour trip. A gradual uphill climb. If I were you I'd install one and maybe a additional tranny cooler. It helps.
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Old 03-07-2007, 07:47 AM   #4
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I used to tow my current trailer with a 1998 Suburban 1500 4x4 3.73 rear end. Even though my trailer is "lite", it isn't as light as you are talking. BTW, if the weight listed is UVW, check the fine print. That weight will not include things like propane, A/C, battery and of course, the supplies you put in.

Sway is a component of many factors. How the weight of the trailer is distributed is important. You need a minimum of 10% weight on the tongue. The added length increases the leverage used by the trailer to induce sway.

My concern is the lightweight suspension on the half tons. Granted I did not have a top of the line sway control system (I did have friction sway bar and weight distributing hitch to balance the weight on tow vehicle), but I got pushed around a bunch. Now I tow with my 1 ton van in the signature. The wheelbase is not that much bigger, plus I have more of an overhang (the van is extended). The van is much more stable. The heavier suspension is the key. I even put e-rated tires on the suburban hoping the stiffer sidewall on the tires would help, it didn't make much difference.

I would suggest that you find a trailer on the dealer's lot similar to the one you want, hook up to it and tow it to see how you feel. If the dealer doesn't want to allow this, move on the next dealer. Don't buy without knowing your combination will work unless you can afford to upgrade your tow vehicle if needed. The voice of experience talking

Keep researching and happy camping

David
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Old 03-08-2007, 12:33 PM   #5
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I digress, but; the single biggest lie spewed by RV salesmen is that they always quote the UVW for what trailer your tow vehicle will handle. NEVER - NEVER use any weight figure but the GVW of the trailer when deciding which trailer your vehicle can/will handle with safety! That is the beginning point for calculating all other weights. As you can see by David's post the tow vehicle length and/or rear overhang are not a primary concern. The suspension, tires, and hitch have the biggest effect on handling.
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Old 03-08-2007, 09:03 PM   #6
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What year is your Burb, what engine does it have? I had a 99 Tahoe with a 5.7L and 3.73 rear end. The GCWR was only 12000lbs and with a little over 5000lbs curb wt, that left only 7000 lbs for towing. I towed a 4000 lb (scaled) 21' Lightweight TT with no problems. I upgraded to a larger heavier TT and the combo tipped the scales at a little over 12,000 lbs. So I ordered the truck in my sig. A 1/2T burb weighs more than a Tahoe so with the same drivetrain it will have a lower tow rating.

My Rule of Thumb is to take the GCWR number - from the GM trailering guide, subtract the GVWR of the Burb (probably 6000 or 7000 lbs) the result of this subtraction is the MAX GVWR of your TT.

I don't give much weight to the wheelbase to TT length Rule esp with the newer lightweight TTs
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Old 03-08-2007, 10:15 PM   #7
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Thanks for the thoughts and ideas. I'll add a couple details to speak to the questions that were raised.

My suburban is a 2005, and it has the 5.3L, 3.42 rear end. The GCWR is 13,000 lbs, and curb weight is 5800, which is how I arrived at the 7200lbs for maximum trailer weight.

I think the idea for trying to tow a similar trailer is a great idea. The only problem is that I don't have the weight distribution hitch now. I would be upgrading my current hitch, should I decide to upgrade my TT.

I guess the first thing on my list tomorrow is to verify the actual GVW for the TT. The point about the transmission temp is a good one - sounds like a little insurance that might be worthwhile.

But I am still concerned about the potential for sway on this combination. It sounds like it will be hard to predict. I wonder if the dealer would give me any references to customers that were sold similarly sized TT's to, and see what they are using as a tow vehicle.

Any other thoughts?
Thanks again!
Dave
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Old 03-09-2007, 04:54 AM   #8
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A few years back I towed a 30 foot TT with a 1 ton long wheel base Ford van. The BB motor would pull that trailer anywhere I wanted to go at speeds far exceeding the legal speed limits. The problem came in when I was passing a truck, car, or anything else on the highway. That combination would always sway. Hated it with a passion. The other problem I see with your combination is the 3.42 rear end. That is made for cruising and economy, not towing. No matter what the books/literature say, I would not want anything much over 25 feet. And again I will never personally pull a TT again over about 25 feet. Just too much of a problem to be worth it.
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Old 03-09-2007, 08:30 PM   #9
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You have several things to be concerned about. Your curb wt - is that measured or what is printed in the book? If it is from the book, it does not include options, passengers or cargo. Is your Burb a 4X4 or 4X2 - if it is a 4x2 then changing from to a 3.73 or 4.10 might be a quick fix to getting more CGVW. For most of the lightweight TTs out there, you should use the GVWR as its weight - reason - mfgs fudge a lot on weights, the UVW in the brochure do not include any options - they add up fast. Also the wt was determined by the first one made (if you are lucky- some use a computed construction wt.) My TrailLite tipped the scales at 4000 lbs - without any water on board. Its GVWR was 4100lbs. So I could not dry camp without going over the GVWR of the TT. The larger units are even worse. Use brochure wts only as estimates - try to get real numbers if you can. Remember all salespeople will tell you anything to make the sale - I have found only one exception in 25 yrs of towing TTs.
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Old 03-11-2007, 05:32 PM   #10
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This is like many articles, just a guide of towing information but it might give you a clue.


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Old 03-19-2007, 07:26 PM   #11
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Thanks for all of the comments everyone! My family loves these larger TT's. It seems that this "rule of thumb" regarding length and wheel base is a little dated and may not consider the superior hitches and the lighter trailers that have come out in the past 10 years or so. That said, I'm just not comfortable pulling a 30' trailer with my 1500, even though there are a few folks out there that do. I've now been sucked into shopping for a larger truck tomorrow. I hope my kids appreciate this :-)

Thanks again for the advise!
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