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Old 03-05-2006, 06:29 AM   #1
mjb
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Hi folks, a new RVer here, and new to this forum. I have a few rookie questions for those with a few minutes to reply. We're about to buy our first TT and need something to accomodate 7 of us, my tow vehicle is a 1500 suburban 4WD, rated to pull about 7500lbs.

I've been looking at the lightweight TT stuff thats 5,000 lbs or less however it seems once loaded it could quickly max out our towing capacity. For those that have been down this road, would you stick with a lightweight expandable and be OK pulling 7,000lbs or, would you upgrade your vehicle and get the trailer (and the capacity) you want such as quad bunk with dining slide? I hope this makes sense, thanks for any help. mark
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Old 03-05-2006, 06:29 AM   #2
mjb
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Hi folks, a new RVer here, and new to this forum. I have a few rookie questions for those with a few minutes to reply. We're about to buy our first TT and need something to accomodate 7 of us, my tow vehicle is a 1500 suburban 4WD, rated to pull about 7500lbs.

I've been looking at the lightweight TT stuff thats 5,000 lbs or less however it seems once loaded it could quickly max out our towing capacity. For those that have been down this road, would you stick with a lightweight expandable and be OK pulling 7,000lbs or, would you upgrade your vehicle and get the trailer (and the capacity) you want such as quad bunk with dining slide? I hope this makes sense, thanks for any help. mark
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Old 03-05-2006, 07:08 AM   #3
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Glad to have you here. The 7500# tow raitng on the 'Burb is a MAXIMUM and based on a base model, no cargo, no options, no hitch and only a 150# driver. For every pound you add over this base weight, you will reduce the towing capacity by the same amount. A reasonable approximation is to use 80% of the max tow rating when looking for a trailer. So reasonable, you need to be looking at a 6000# maximum loaded trailer weight. Forget the trailer dry weight as this again is a base model, no options or cargo. For the entry level trailer, this weight generally does not include the A/C, microwave, batteries and propane. A family of 7 will probably increase the dry weight close to 1000# over the dry weight.

Also, need to ask which engine and axle ratio you have. When the truck manufacturer list a max tow rating it for a "properly equiped vehicle" which means a large engine and a towing axle ratio such as a 3.73 or a 4.10. You need to check the rating based on you specific engine and axle.

The best weigh to know for sure is to weigh the truck with all the family and normal travel cargo is aboard and add 100# for the hitch. From the drivers door sticker, get the trucks GVWR and from the owners manual, get the GCWR.

GCWR - loaded truck = Max loaded trailer weight.
GVWR - loaded truck = max loaded trailer tongue weight.

For an estimated loaded pin weight you can use 12% of the trailer GVWR as a good estimate.

With a family of 7 in the 'Burb, you may run out of GVWR before you reach the GCWR of the truck.

In any case, since you are just starting out and not sure of what you want or need, look at used trailers. RV's depreciate heavliy, the minute it is driven off the lot. After you have used a used trailer for a year or two, you will have a much better idea of what you want for the long term. From a cost stand point, the used trailer that fits your current tow vehicle is the way to try out RVing.

Happy hunting.

Ken
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Old 03-05-2006, 07:19 AM   #4
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Ken, my burb has a 5.3L and 3.73 gear. Thanks much for your reply, great info to think on.
Mark
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Old 03-06-2006, 12:44 PM   #5
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Hi MJB

I went through a similar quandry a few years back. I had a '98 Suburban 1500 4x4 with 5.7 liter and 3.73 rear end. Only had three kids at the time. The trailer I purchased (listed in signature) didn't have a slide, but did have the quad bunks. I wasn't happy with the Suburban's softer suspension. It was also a little overloaded.

Now, I have a bunch more kids and tow with the van in the signature. The difference is night and day. Even with the additional weight in the vehicle and trailer (all the extra stuff) the current set up is many times more stable and powerful. Towing with the Suburban for three hours on the interstate was a chore, towing with the van for twice that amount of time is not too difficult.

One question to ask yourself is, "How much time are we going to spend in the trailer?" If you are going to be in the trailer for extended trips, you may need the extra room the larger trailer allows. If you are mainly going on weekend trips close to home, the smaller trailer and current Suburban may work well for you, it just depends on your planned usage.

One other thing to remember. Plans always change!
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Old 03-09-2006, 09:27 PM   #6
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I get the impression that you want more trailer than your tow vehicle can easily pull. I went through the same exercise. I bought a 2005 Hemi 5.7 Durango with 3.92 rear rated by Dodge to pull 8650 lbs. After much agonizing I finally bought a rear living w/slide 31 ft TT with a 8020 weight and thought I was in good shape. When I realized how marginal I was I bought a Hensley hitch and a Prodigy controller. I am still marginal but my only problem so far is controlling my speed and leaving enough room to stop properly. The Hensley more or less completely stopped sway. If I drive 10 mph uder the speed limit and pay attention I am OK.

There are several things you can do if you keep the Surburban. You can buy the Hensley hitch, change to a higher rear ratio, like a 4.10 for example. Make sure you have a transmission cooler; and preferably a transmission guage. Add booster shocks. Make sure you have D or E rated truck tires pumped up to max when hot and towing, make sure the TT has good tires and are pumped up. Make sure that you torque the lug nuts on the TT to spec every 50 miles when you first get it and during extended trips. Ck the TV and the TT tire pressure often. Purchase a torque wrench, pressure gauge and a small portable tire gauge; plus a grease gun for the Hensley. (FYI the hensley club has occasional owners that sell good used hitches for approx 1/2 price. The new price is approx $3,000. Watch the axle weights on the TV and TT. Watch the maximum load on both TV and TT and watch the weight maximum on the combination. Drive slowly in good weather on relatively level terrain and be careful.

If I had my time to go over I would buy a quad cab Dodge 3500 Cummins diesel with single rear wheels.
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