Travel Trailer help

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Striker1423

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I have a 1994 Z71 Silverado. Yes, I know it's old. It has the 5.7, Z82 package (class 4 hitch, trans and engine cooler), and 3.42 gears for some dumb reason. My wife wants a camper and I do too, but trying to be realistic with our wants and needs here, I set out to try and find what this truck could tow. Turns out, the discussions here and elsewhere on the net have been all over the board. Anywhere from 5000 to 7500 lbs trailer weight. I'm trying to find trailers under 5,000 lbs DRY, so when loaded they'd maybe get to 6 or 6500 lbs, but even 'light' campers aren't that light.

Here is a rough example of what we'd like:
https://www.generalrv.com/product/new-2024-coachmen-rv-apex-ultra-lite-245bhs-2175653-29

What I've found elsewhere all seem to hover from 4500 to 5200 lbs dry. Several upgrades might be in order... 3.73 gearing, though that's a pain with the front axle. Airbags probably, and a sway control hitch. Brake controller, etc.

But, I just want the correct starting number so I know if this is a pipe dream or not.
 

1998_K1500_Sub

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There is no sticker on your vehicle... it's missing / removed?

Here's the towing specifications from the 1994 GMC Sierra sales slicksheet (attached), FWIW. Your Z82 option is mentioned on the 2nd page. Axle capacities are listed on the 1st page.

You might take a minute to run your truck across a scale, somewhere, to measure the actual load on each axle. For reference, my 1998 K1500 Suburban weighed 3020 (F) 3160 (R) when I scaled it at a local grain elevator and it was more or less unloaded, w/ me in the seat and some gas in the tank.

Take a look at your brake RPO (JB5 / JB6) to get a handle on how much braking GM gave you, e.g., from the 1998 FSM:

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I've pulled a 4000# '79 Camaro on a 2210# U-Haul auto transport trailer w/ surge brakes (see https://www.uhaul.com/Trailers/Auto-Transport-Rental/AT/) for short trips (90mi) with my K1500 Suburban L31 / 4L60E / 3.73 gears / 8.5" rear end / JB6 brakes, on more-or-less flat terrain across lightly traveled roads, and that's about ALL the load I care to move with it. Add the trailered weight to the Suburban's weight (~6200#) and it totals a bit over 12,500#. While I didn't scale it, I'll assume the loaded trailer’s tongue weight was ~1000#, so the combined load on the Suburban chassis was around 7200#. I don’t have the balls to take the same load on an interstate at speed / in traffic, but that's just me... maybe, with more practice / experience.

I pulled in D3 (4L60E). I and perhaps others may suggest you do the same unless you have the 4L80E.

IMHO the Camaro / trailer combo doesn't present a lot of wind drag behind a Suburban, as compared to a camper behind an open bed pickup, so there's that.

I'll let others comment on whether the 8.5" rear end is up to the task for your situation.

If you trade those 3.42 gears for 3.73, on stock tires in D3 you'll be running about 3100RPM at 65MPH, give or take. The engine noise isn't too bad at that RPM, but if the fan clutch is tight you'll have plenty of fan noise.
 

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1998_K1500_Sub

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Probably JB5 brakes and I wouldn’t count on them towing that, never mind your poor 4L60...


... and the 8.5" rear end, which my Suburban has also.

I've spun the carrier inside the bearings once, already. Reason: Evidently the differential case / bearing caps will deform under excessive load, the bearings will then bind and the carrier will spin inside the inner race. I'm not sure how I caused this to happen; it must have been one of the occasions that I was towing the Camaro (see my earlier post) and I stood on the gas leaving a stoplight.

Third-parties make girdles for the 8.5” rear that help manage the load on the bearing caps, FWIW.
 
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Sean Buick 76

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I hate to say it however I don’t think It’s a great idea to tow anything much over 5000 pounds with the truck as it sits. With the 3.42 gears it’s gonna be a struggle. I would go right to 4.10 gears without question. Even then it’s a lot of time and effort to make this work.

I used to be proud of towing too heavy of trailers for my half tons but now that I have a real truck I realize it was dangerous. Thinking back to when my 91 K1500 6 lug was my daily about 20 years ago I bought a parts truck for it and pulling the trailer home up steep hills just about killed the engine and trans. That would have been about a 5500 pound load I think?

Conversely with my 2012 2500 HD and at least 7000 pounds behind it I performed a panic stop without drama when I got cut off.
 
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Striker1423

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Yeah, I took a picture of the RPO codes from when I first got the truck and here's the door sticker as well.

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I figured I was farting in the wind with the larger campers and this truck. I had a 2019 LD but sold it because of our mortgage underwriter, and went backwards because of the simplicity. Never really figured a camper was even in our sites until recently.
 

1998_K1500_Sub

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Striker1423

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Yes, I have that sticker in the door as well. I even have the owners manual, but that's useless. Doesn't specify anything.

The GM Heritage Vehicle information kit shows payload (E63) as:

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GVWR is of course 6200 per the sticker. Max trailer weight shows 7000/850 bumper pull (properly equipped):

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The question to get the right number is... what does (properly equipped) mean?

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Looking at the GVWR selector:

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Looks like I would need technically the GT4 axle, which of course is the 3.73 ratio. F44 is the HD package (GT5) 4.10 gears and heavier springs, 4l80e etc. Short of getting the build invoice (GM Heritage wants $50 for it), I think I'm left wondering what the actual trailer capacity is, since they only show the minimum/maximum possible (v6 vs v8 properly equipped) on the Info package (which looks to be max the 3.73 GT4 for the 350).

You would think they would list ALL of the capacities, not just the max.
 

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