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Topic: Questions for those Towing w/ASTRO/SAFARI Vans- UPDATE

Posted By: campknitter on 04/21/07 10:50pm

I am trying to make sure I don't bite off more than I can realistically chew.

DH is tired of loading and unloading, popping up, popping down.

I am looking at the Fleetwood Orbit 210FQ. This particular model from factory w/options is 3300.(taken from inside of cabinet) GVWR is 5250. I will not load to the GVWR w/this combo. (brochure shows GDWR 2784)

Tow Rating for my AWD Safari is 5000 lbs. 4.3 V6 Vortec (3.73 axle) 2nd row seat is removed when towing. It has external oil cooler and Tranny Cooler (OEM) that my mechanic assures me is adequate.
Wheelbase is just over 111"
Payload is 1660.

The Orbit Dry h.r. is 332 lbs. Trailer length from hitch to Bumper is 23.5'
2 propane bottles 168 lbs.
battery wt. approx 68 lbs. = Total more realistic HW 568 lbs

I will be getting a class III/IV hitch w/sway and WD.

I don't think I would tow w/the fresh water tank full. It is forward of axle though.

passengers max when towing would be 650 lbs. or less, if DD and the Dog stays home.

By my calculations Approx. loaded weight of trailer: 4556 lbs. which includes approx 370 lbs of gear.

This vehicle has been an excellent tow vehicle for our popup. I know this vehicle is reliable. PLUS We invested in the Safari new but slightly used, as our long term tow vehicle. Comfy for the dog and her folding crate when she goes camping with us. Decent every day gas mileage for touring once we get to our destinations. W/popup no difference in the gas mpg towing over 2k. I know that will go out the door once we go w/a high profile TT. Hoping the aerodynamic nose similar to my van's and fiberglass skin will help, but know I will be lucky to get 10 mpg's from what I have been reading.

I just had new front brakes put on and Sensa Trac shocks on rear (OEM front shocks still good)I am lovin' the ride of my van now![emoticon]

I verified that the dealer will let me take a test tow once I get the proper hitch set-up. So, guess that will really tell the story.[emoticon]

We liked the Orbit Sport 180FQ, which has a similar floorplan, and definitely in the right weight range (20' 4" long) GVWR 3600 cargo capacity 1135 lbs.

The problem is the dinette would not really be a sleeping option (we have 1 adult child that still likes to go adventuring w/us) Design of the dinette as a sleeping area appears to be flawed. Plus it isn't long enough for even our 5' pettite DD, even w/0 the design flaw.

I guess we could bring the Coleman camp cot and arrange it against the dinette for her sleeping area. The 180FQ does not have a dual axle.

thanks in advance for you responses.

* This post was last edited 09/16/07 12:01pm by campknitter *

Posted By: Joan & Egon on 04/22/07 03:51am

All your calculations make sense and you are right with your concerns.
About ten years ago we did the same thing. At the time we were towing a pop-up with an Astro Van. Then we fell in love with a fairly lightweight 18 foot tow trailer.
We bought the trailer and had a Reese weight distributing hitch installed with two sway bars.
I tested all this in a neighbourhood parking lot. No problem!
Then we packed and left for a lengthy trip to the west coast.
Once we hit the highway I was shocked to find out how differently a TT tows from a Pop up. I really had to slow down. Every passing truck sucked me in. Every oncoming truck on any two lane highway pushed me over. White knuckle driving! Windy conditions made it even worse.
We did do that trip, but once we returned home the van and TT got traded for a fiver and a truck.
If your camping trips are fairly close to home, you may be alright with your set-up. If you plan to travel long distances, I would advise you to reconsider.

2001 Silverado 3500 Diesel with Aux. Tank.
2011 Maxum Wild, 24RL, Fifth Wheel, by Heartland.
2 Honda EU2000i Gens.
No Cat, No Dog, no Canary. Just Two Happy Campers!

Posted By: pritch272 on 04/22/07 06:03am

We have a Safari Van, and because it was our only available TV when we were upgrading from tent camping, we bought a Pioneer 180 CK TT. We took a few trips with it, and our last trip was last summer to Tybee Island in Savannah. Although the van seemed to handle OK, I was concerned most of the time and it just didn't feel right, always had the feeling we were pushing it a little too much. Anyhow, on straight level I-16, anytime we hit a slight rise, the air conditioner would cut out until we leveled back out, and these were very slight inclines. Of course, with outside temps right at 100 degrees, when that air conditioner cut out, you get hot really quick. That was the deciding factor that caused us to jump at the chance of buying another TV. I could tolerate 7-8 mpg towing within a 2 to 3 hours radius, I could tolerate pushing the limits of the vehicle, but could not tolerate the air conditioner cutoff.

So, when we had an opportunity to purchase a 2000 F250 PSD (7.3) with only 96k miles, in excellent condition, one local owner, and no mods, we jumped on it.

It didn't take long to decide to sell the TT and buy a new FW, bought the new FW from RV Direct, drove the 830 miles to Elkhart to pick it up, sold the TT within a couple of months without taking too much of a loss on what we paid for it.

Best thing we ever did.

2007 Keystone Laredo 29RL, 2000 Ford F250 7.3 PSD, Firestone bags, Pressure Pro, 16" Michelin XPS Ribs, MorRyde Pin Box, Dexter EZ-Flex, PI EMS-HW30C, Dirt Devil CV950 Central Vacuum, 2000W AllPower by Kipor, 4000/3500W Champion C46540

Posted By: ib516 on 04/22/07 07:24am

I towed a TT with a 2001 Safari van with AWD, tow/haul mode, and 3.42 gears. The van had less than 60,000 miles on it, and was very well maintained - synthetic fluids, trans flush done, etc. A nice van - I liked it.

TT was a 2002 25' Ultralight Terry Dakota. By the specs, UVW was ~3600#, GVWR was 4900#.

I did not like it at all. OD was out of the question at all times, as was using the cruise control. I used 3rd gear and tow/haul at all times, and had the biggest aftermarket trans cooler I could fit behind the grill. I had to constantly keep one eye on the temp gauge when towing, had to shut off the A/C on any big hills as the temp always ran over 1/2 on the gauge. It would do OK on the flats if there was no wind. If there was anything but a tailwind, it was constantly shifting between 2nd (4000 RPM screaming) to gain speed, then back into 3rd where it would slowly lose speed.
It boiled over on me once when I stopped for gas (heat soak). Sway was an issue a couple of times; mostly when going downhill or when a big rig passed me.

Basically not a pleasant experience. I always thought the 3.73s would have given me a minor improvement in performance, and made it more doable, but it was still too much TT for the van.

Out of all the minivans, the Astro/Safari is the best out there for towing IMO. They are a solid platform with good heavy duty parts (for a minivan). The trans and rear axle is the same as the GM 1500 series trucks of the same vintage.

I only made one that one long trip with that setup, the rest were 60 miles or less from my home. Upgraded both TT and tow vehicle after that experience.

MPG towing was 4-6mpg.

I initially towed a pop-up with the Safari when we got it, and it pulled that like a champ. Just dropped it out of OD, put it in tow/haul, and set the cruise. The pop-up was a 12-14' (closed length) box, it was a 1981 Lionel. I never weighed it, but I'm sure it was around 2000#. I think the increased wind resistance was what hurt the Safari more than the increase in trailer weight.

Prev: 2010 Cougar 322QBS (junk)
02 Dodge 2500 4x4 5.9L CTD 3.55
07 Dodge 3500 4x4 SRW Mega 5.9L CTD 3.73
14 Ram 2500 4x4 Crew 6.4L Hemi 4.10
06 Chevy 1500 4x4 E-Cab 3.73 5.3L
All above are sold
Current: 07 Dodge 1500 5.7L Hemi 3.55 / 2010 Jayco 17z

Posted By: Bessie-Hunter on 04/22/07 08:06am

I tow a 27' Surveyor with my '98 RWD Safari. Does a descent job doing so. I have towed this combo for 3 years and over 12,000 miles with no problems. Trailer weights 4400 LBS empty and I would guess when loaded (have not weighed yet) it's about 5100-5200 LBS (GVW of trailer is 5600). I have added a True-Cool external trans cooler and a trans temperature gauge. While towing trans temps are a round 180*. I run in 3rd not OD. Mine does not have the Haul/Tow option and I average 10.5 MPG while towing. Like you, I remove the rear seat to save weight. I use the Reese Dual-Can WD. Like another poster stated, trucks will push you around a little when they pass you.

So, if you like the trailer and a new TV is not in the budget (like it was not for us), go for it and have fun.


Posted By: spike99 on 05/04/07 12:35am


I used to pull a 4,700 lbs "loaded" 19ft TT with my 2001 AWD Safari as well. Here's my lessons learned:

- The Safari/Astro vans have "factory mush" rear suspension. Their suspension is built for rider comfort but are too mushy when loaded down or pulling a trailer. Even a light weight utility trailer. With this in mind, I'd install Timbrens (2,000 lbs model) in the rear of the van. They are like air bags without air. Install them and leave them. If wondering, this product (only in the rear of the van) eliminates mass amount of sag and "factory mush" suspension depth. Especially if the rear of you van is loaded down with cargo and you also connect a trailer that has 300+ lbs tonque weight.

- To eliminate up/down movement, replace the factory shocks with Blistien, Rancho or even HD Montro shocks. The GM factory shocks are very poor and don't last long. These other brands of shocks are made for towing and having extra loads in the van.

Note: Even if you tow a TT or other trailer that uses a WD system, I'd still install Timbrens in the TV's rear. Timbrens are great to "firm up" the vehicle's rear suspension - especially when extra cargo is in its rear storage area as well. The WD system is used to distribute the Trailer's Tonque weight off its rear Hitch. Both improvements do work great with each other.

- Install a Tranny Cooler in the van. If wondering, the tranny in the Astro/Safari is designed for "average" load pulling. With this in mind, it needs to be kept cooler. Some folks are installing extra tranny cooler in their vans that don't even pull things. For example, Safaris/Astros that are used for commercial business. Like hauling steel piping around. If you do get a tranny cooler installed, get the proper sized "Tru-Cool LPD transmission cooler" model. They are the best.

- Many say to install a tranny oil temp guage as well. Yes. The extra Aux tranny cooler will keep its oil cooler but a guage is much better then its factory "dummy" light (or is that, "too late" light) comes ON.. Seriously, I'd install a tranny temp guage if pulling more then 4,000 lbs trailer. Something I should have installed to my 2001 van years ago. It probably would have saved me a rebuilt tranny. OUCH!!!!

- Get RWD (2WD) model. In the past, we had a 2WD (RWD) van and today, we have an AWD Safari van. Knowing what I know today, I'd only get a 2wd van again. They are better on gas, less expensive for insurance, have more "take off" power and are better on gas. OH - did I mention "better on gas"? Seriously, the RWD van is hard on gas. The AWD version is an PIG on gas. If you don't need AWD (for example, a "nice to have"), then only get the 2WD version.

Note: If pulling a 4,000-4,500 lbs Trailer with a RWD Safari/Astro van, one is "right on the border" of feeling a comfortable or uncomfortable drive. The more weight in the TT, more weight in the TV, more hills, more head wind and faster speed will push one's driving comfort into "what knuckle" feeling. Especially if one is using an AWD van - which has 400 lbs LESS pulling power then its RWD (2wd) version. If it were me, I would NOT pull more then 3,500-3,800 lbs with an "AWD" Safari/Astro van. Going above this weight does create a white knuckle feeling.

- Known to some, the brakes on the Astro/Safari van aren't the best. Yes. They will stop a load and stop within legal limits. But if you compare its stopping distance to a different brand of vehicle of equal size, the other vehicle stops in less distance. My 2003 RDV can stop is 1/2 the distance - compared to my 2001 AWD Safari van. No, not trying to scare you. Just sharing my lessons learned. With this in mind, do ensure your TT has brakes on it. They are properly adjusted and are clean. Having "working" brakes on a trailer connected to a Safari/Astro van dramatically improves its braking distance. Especially on the Safari/Astro brand.

If pulling a more then 4,000 lbs "loaded" trailer (especially a TT what adds 1,000 lbs due to "more wind drag" - when compared to a 4,000 lbs utility trailer), I'd upgrade to a better TV. Nice V8 engine and better gear ratios for towing. Sorry to say this but any TT longer then 20 ft or more then 4,000 lbs is "too much" for a Safari / Astro van. Especially an AWD van - that has 400 lbs less pulling power then its 2WD model.

Note: We no longer tow our 19ft TT around with our 2001 AWD Safari van. Way too many white knuckle experiences. Last fall, we traded in our 19ft TT and got a 29ft TT - on a seasonal camp site. No more towing TTs for me. The white knuckle from "too much" TT behind my 2001 AWD Safari did it for me. Never again will I pull "on the edge" of its pulling power and wind drag again. It really isn't worth it.

Hope this helps...


* This post was edited 05/04/07 07:21am by spike99 *

Posted By: 1kennyOG on 07/17/07 10:37pm

I love my 2003 Astro RWD but it is my first tow vehicle.
I tow on the busiest highway in North America with no stress at all.
My trailer specs are:

Dry Hitch Weight - 300
Unloaded Vehicle Weight - 3811
GVWR - 4840
Exterior Length (closed) 24' 4"

I do use the Equal-i-zer 1000/10,000

campknitter did you keep your Astro???

Posted By: Woods on 07/17/07 11:02pm

We towed our 25ft aerolite with our 95 gmc safari van. It was borderline with the van. Short trips and taking it easy, you should be ok. A trans cooler is a must!

TV: 01 Dodge 2500 quadcab 4X4: Cummins,auto(Goerend TC/VB & deep pan),TC lockup switch,gauges,edge comp,rv injec,holley fuel pump,permacool fuel/water filter,big banjo fuel bolts,180 stat,high flow exhaust w/K&N filter.

RV: 26ft 2003 Aerolite.

Posted By: campknitter on 08/04/07 07:14pm

thanks for all the posts on this subject. UPDATE

We are still towing our popup.

I haven't taken a test tow yet w/the 210fq Orbit or any other TT until I get the right WDH/sway control on. Haven't needed WD w/the Sante Fe.

AWD is not needed most of the time but, we do go out into the boonies to camp at times. Was very glad to have the AWD when going over the Steens Mountian Loop scenic HWY in Oregon a few years ago. NEVER would have done that w/o the AWD.

We bought a commuter car replacement a few months ago instead. I just knew that if we bought a trailer that 1. our '92 commuter car would bite the dust. 2. I would hate feeling a barn behind me, just for the convenience of not popping up. 3. resent the mpg hit we would take towing a TT. 4. end up having to park the trailer for the summer, because I didn't feel safe towing.

Posted By: TXiceman on 08/04/07 07:36pm

You will be pretty heavily loaded with the trailer. One of the big problems with the Astro van is the weak and soft rear suspension.


Amateur Radio Operator.
2013 HitchHiker 38RLRSB Champagne, toted with a 2012, F350, 6.7L PSD, Crewcab, dually. 3.73 axle, Full Time RVer.
Travel with a standard schnauzer and a Timneh African Gray parrot

Posted By: NomadBill on 08/04/07 08:15pm

I tried towing a Nomad 19LT(about 4500 or so loaded) with a Blazer 4.3 L, V6, 3.43. Towed fine on the flat, any hill was an adventure. But the real reason I changed to truck-expensive transmission and rear end repairs after only 1000 miles.
I now enjoy my vacations-don't have to worry about getting there or back.

Posted By: dougsee3 on 08/05/07 08:23am

Towed a 1996 Wilderness 22LW (3380dry) , 1993 AWD Astro

It steered and handled good with this 24 ft trailer even in high winds(no sway controll). I did find it lacked power to accelerate from 40 to 60mph.
On some to most hills, there was a lot of 2nd gear travel but using 2nd gear and 4000rpm never bothered me. I still see that kind rpm and 2nd gear in my more powerful TT/TV combination's anyway's.

My trailer weighed in at 4700 to 5000lbs and was 8' wide.
My GCWR was 9900lbs

With one of the 7ft wide trailers and possibly 2600 to 2800 lbs dry the Astro/Safari van would do much better, if not a reasonable job.


2008 Pace Arrow 33V
8.1 Workhorse
Acme Eze-Tow Dolly
Last RV
2005 2500 Avalanche 8.1/3.73
2004 30' Terry Quantum 290FLS

Calgary Alberta

Posted By: 1kennyOG on 08/06/07 08:24pm

this weekend was my "most hilly" with the Astro.
I was taking hills at 80K with my foot to the floor.
not sure what gear I was in I just keep it in drive.
got good gas mileage too [emoticon]
5 hour drive used up less than 3/4 tank

Posted By: campknitter on 08/07/07 08:05pm

Ok, here I go again. I think GVWR of the 180fq sport would be the better combo now. 3600 gvwr. Not going to jump in still.
DD is an adult, and realistically, probably won't come much now w/us. When she does come, probably just myself and her on those trips.

Kenny, what year is your Astro/Safari? mine is a '99.

I was teasing my mom today. If nothing else we have a backup vehicle to pull w/. Her 2006 3500 chev Roadtrek Versatile 210. no question that that baby could pull that little camper. lol I don't know if she thought I was funny or not though. lol I told her, the Versatile could be the tow rig when we go east over the mountains. snicker snicker

Posted By: 04aerolite on 08/07/07 09:05pm

I tow a Aerolite 30BHSL with my 2002 Astro AWD I live in Southern West Virginia and have very little to complain about. Yeah it is not a powerhouse on hills but I have had this combo to Myrtle Beach 3 times, Pigeon Forge 1 time, Cherokee NC 1 time and locally several trips including this weekend. I tow Sandstone Mt. at least once a year and honestly it is a good tow vehicle.

Posted By: blt2ski on 08/07/07 10:04pm

WIth what you are going to do, I would have used my old, now EE's 2000 safari van that is equiped as you have.

As IAn mentioned, what will kill you worst, is the frontal area, aerodynamics of a bigger trailer, NOT the weight. As an example, if you are at 15K lbs total, and you have 70# of frontal area, you need 105 HP on a level to go 60 mph, At 15K with 90#, you need 135 HP! No weight gain, just frontal area gain. That 135HP is the same amount needed to move 26K lbs at 70# of frontal area.

I have gone from Seattle to Ellensburg with my old TT and my Equipment trailer, approx the above lbs and frontal area. Going over I90, I am 10 mph faster and 1 gear higher higher with my old GM K2500. I also got 10% better MPG with the ET vs the TT!

The reality is, wt will not be the issue, it will be how aerodynamic the trailer will be. A slighty heavier Airstream would be better than a flat faced lighter trailer such as a Sunnybrook. A smooth fiberglassed walled trailer at +300 lbs is easier to tote around than the ripple sided lighter wt aluminum trailer.

Where am I on this, well, if it were to be just myself is EE, then we talked about that 25' TT for us alone at times, we would do as you are, remove the rear seat, More to make sure with the two of us at 450+ lbs, HW at 650 lbs etc, would keep the van with in its GVWR. I would personally look at aerodynimc trailers vs non aerodynamic ones, even is slighty heavier, as wt from pulling multiple different styles of trailers, specing trucks for my business etc, is not usually the factor that slows me down, as much as a non aerodynamic rig. I always got better mpg pulling my bobcat, or trackhoe behind my pickups than my TT, even if at 150% of GCWR!


92 Navistar dump truck, 7.3L 7 sp, 4.33 gears with a Detroit no spin
00 Chev C2500, V5700, 4L80E, 4.10, base truck, no options!
92 Red-e-haul 12K equipment trailer

Check RV.Net Blogs at:

Posted By: 1kennyOG on 08/07/07 10:29pm

My current Astro is a 2003 with no tow options and 3.41 rear end.

Posted By: campknitter on 08/08/07 12:23pm

Marty, thanks for your comments.

The Orbit is actually aerodynamic looking, w/smoothe fiberglass skin.

view from side rear exterior of the 180fQ, can't see here, but the frontal area does have a slope.

Exterior view of 2007 Orbit Sport 180FQ

Posted By: Caddywhompus on 08/08/07 01:05pm

I pulled a 20' Coachmen travel trailer for 3 seasons with a '95 Astro van. The trailer was about 4500 pounds fully loaded, but not aerodynamic in any way (a brick).

Generally speaking, the Astro van was a decent tow vehicle for this combination. I did have trouble with transmission over-heating the first time out, and installed a HUGE aftermarket trans cooler after that, which solved the trans temp issue. Unfortunately I still had occassional problems with engine temps, especially if the outside temp was over 90-ish. The couple times I had to tow in extreme heat, we ended up running without AC (when we needed it most) to keep engine temp under control. This only happened twice that I can remember, and never actually over-heated anything. Stability was decent, much better than our full-size Bronco rated for 7000 towing, although WD hitch setup was critical due too the soft rear suspension on the Astro. I also upgraded to LT truck tires for better sidewall strength.

My biggest gripe with the Astro van was generally the poor reliability of things NOT towing related. We had tons of problems with ours, lots of which were electrical. We sold the van with piston slap (which GM wouldn't acknowledge) at 80k miles and I had about $5000 in out-of-pocket repairs at that time. The van itself handled poorly, was really cramped for front seat passengers, and carries miserable safety ratings. Also, mileage was never great compared to other, more capable vans.

We upgraded to a Freestar after the Astro, which ironically enough is rated for only 3500 towing but can do so with a full load in the van. By the time you take a 5000 rated Astro and subtract all the weight placed in the van from the tow rating (as you have to do) you are actually right around the same towing ability as many FWD minivans rated for a full 3500 towing WITH stuff in the van. The Freestar has been everything the Astro wasn't, comfortable, economical, reliable and safe. My wife even drives when we go out camping now, something she could never get comfortable with when we used the Astro as our tow vehicle.

The irony is that I bought the Astro with the false understanding that is was somehow built "tuffer" than the other minivans and more capable of towing. This is probably true when compared with older FWD minivans, which had poor reliability on the whole. It just turns out to be untrue when compared with the latest generation of vans, many of which out-power, out-brake, out-handle and out-last the Astro. And as an added benefit, they are also safer, more comfortable and A LOT more economical to drive the 95% of the time you aren't towing.


  • '11 Ford Expedition XL 5.4L (Primary tow vehicle)
  • '04 Mercury Grand Marquis 4.6L (Backup tow vehicle
  • '04 Ford Freestar SES 3.9L (another Backup tow vehicle)
  • '97 Lincoln Mark VIII 32v 4.6L (another Backup tow vehicle)
  • '95 Ford Ranger XLT 4.0L (final Backup)

Posted By: Camper G on 08/08/07 01:06pm


If the trailer you are considering is the one from the photo you posted, I'd go for it. That trailer is single axle and looks light weight.

Install a good trans cooler, get some decent load range D tires for your astro and possibly stiffen up the rear suspension. Don't tow in OD and take your time. I think you will be ok, based on the trailer you are considering, if it is the one from the photo.

2017 Dodge Ram 2500 HD, 4x4, CCSB, 6.4L HEMI, Snow Chief, tow package.,1989 Skyline Layton model 75-2251.

Posted By: campknitter on 08/12/07 06:42pm

Camper Q thanks for your observations. Yes, the photo is the TT we are considering. RE: Tires, I have ATR tires now. I will call my tire dealer to find out what the load range is for them. They knew I towed a popup when they put them on, and that we go into semi unimproved roads at times for camping. So I suspect the ATR stands for All Terrain Radials? but maybe not?
We just got back from a 3 night camping trip. DH has convinced me that we are ready to make a change. Am going to get the Class III/IV WDH & sway control, then do the test w/the Orbit Sport. Single axle will be better for the bridge tolls we now have to pay when going to Tacoma.

We also saw a Astro/Safari towing an Aerolite the same length range as the Orbit on the way home today..mmmmmm. The Orbit sounds more and more possible.

Caddy, so sorry that you had a bad experience w/your Astro. Thank you for relating your towing experiences with it. I seem to have the same reliablility experiences w/other vehicle brands that I have ownned. I don't know if the GMC Safari version is beefier or what, but my mechanic claims after looking at my Tranny and Oil Cooler that I don't need additional ones, that the OEM's I have are strong enough. He knows I am going to be going from a popup to a small tt. Anyway, we have owned our '99 GMC Safari since '99, and have put 122,000 + miles on it and have found it to be comfortable & reliable, towing our 2000 lb+popup, through high the high mountains of the west.

I would love better gas mileage, but it still gets better mileage than an SUV. We have commuter vehicles for everyday driving so the Safari now is just used as a people mover, cargo mover & tow vehicle now. Also, where I live, I would not tow w/a fwd vehicle. I go through mountains when camping most of the time. If I lived where it was flat and no mountains to go through, I maybe wouldn't be so emphatic about not towing w/fwd.

We go tomorrow to check on the proper hitch and a peek at the FQ18 again.

thanks again to those comments.

Posted By: campknitter on 08/13/07 04:23pm

Just got back from looking at the little Orbit again.

Found out the load bearing on our vehicle tires, 1100 lbs each. so that gives us 4400 lbs. so w/in range of what we want to do. Also, trailer weight from factory w/options of A/C & Stereo (don't need the stereo but that is what it has)about 2561 lbs, so about 150lbs less than the estimated drywt on the brochure, but that is good.

Checked w/the hitch people, they are recommending Eaz-Lift 550. I will also have a new class III/IV receiver installed.

Posted By: 1kennyOG on 08/13/07 04:39pm


you're good to go for sure.
that's nothing to a CHEVY.

Posted By: astro/hilo on 08/13/07 07:57pm

You got a good vehicle. My astro pulls my 4,500lb trailer with no problems. I'm thinking of taking my set-up to AK next summer.

2001 HiLo TowLite 1901TL
2000 Chevy Astro 3:73
Hayden Stacked Plate
Reese Dual Cam
Cipa Mirrors
CalMark Cover

Posted By: campknitter on 09/16/07 11:56am

Update: we purchased a 2007 Orbit Sport 180fq. Take delivery Sat. the 22nd.

I weighed all my stuff from the popup that would go into the new Sport and found w/clothes I have 268 lbs that will go into the Orbit. (this includes our DO kit, chairs, rolltop table, linens, pots & pans, shoes and misc.) Actually several pounds that used to go into the popup will no longer be needed (shower tent, porta potty, shelving system & extra sleeping bags)

The dealer is installing an extra propane tank and battery so figuring into my figures w/o the water tank being filled will have 368 lbs left for food and bikes.

The dryweight loaded w/options is in the 2700 lbs range. gvwr of the 180fq is 3600 lbs. If we haul w/the water tank loaded for dry camping we will have 131 lbs left for food and bikes.

I then figured my weight room to the 3600 gvwr from 800 lbs instead of 900 lbs so that I would have conservative figures.

I had an Eaz-lift 550 w/1000 lb WD bars installed last Monday (actually the WD bars and hitch is sitting in the back of my van waiting for a TT.)

The hitch shop will put my sway control on when I bring the new trailer in as well as check my bars or adjust my bars for best setup.

When possible I will take my combo to be weighed. There is a Flying J truckstop not far from where the dealership is, but the tt won't be loaded for camping.

Thanks again for everyones input and suggestions. This site has been a big help in being informed before the buy.

Posted By: RAMBOY on 09/16/07 12:18pm

04aerolite wrote:

I tow a Aerolite 30BHSL with my 2002 Astro AWD I live in Southern West Virginia and have very little to complain about. Yeah it is not a powerhouse on hills but I have had this combo to Myrtle Beach 3 times, Pigeon Forge 1 time, Cherokee NC 1 time and locally several trips including this weekend. I tow Sandstone Mt. at least once a year and honestly it is a good tow vehicle.

My brother-in-law tows a 25 ft Aerolite with an AWD Astro. He says it does good except on hills. He did decide not to trailer to Branson, Mo due to the hills there.

Posted By: Hornet28BHDS on 09/16/07 12:44pm

Glad to hear of your purchase! Let's see some pictures!

2006 Hornet 28BHDS-Bunk House, Dual Slides

2006 Dodge Ram 2500 HD
5.7L Hemi, Factory Towing Package
Reese Brake Controller, WD Hitch and Sway Bar

Life is short, why not spend it in an RV!


Posted By: campknitter on 09/16/07 06:31pm

Hornet, I will be counting the days until Saturday. : ) Will post pics as soon as I get it home.

Posted By: emaav on 09/16/07 10:38pm

Campknitter we have a 97 Safari and a 03 Kiwi, the Kiwi comes in at just under 4600lbs, our total going down the road camping weight is right at 9500lbs, I get 9-10 mpg on flat or hills, Just make sure you have a properly adjusted WD and sway setup, you should do just fine. I leave it in drive, not third. Has worked so far without a problem, we just turned 120,00.

Me (Eli)
Better Half (Trinity)
2 cats
1999 Chevy 3500
1993 Shadow Cruiser 21F21RD

Posted By: campknitter on 09/16/07 11:42pm

thanks emaav,
I am figuring that I will be 1000 lbs less than your setup?
We probably drive in similar terrain, I am mostly at sea level.

Posted By: tomdrobin on 09/18/07 09:52pm

I had a 2002 AWD Astro Van with the tow package and 3:73 locker axle. It towed my 25' TT, which weighed around 4500# and #5500 loaded. The soft van suspension wasn't an issue with the Weight Dist. (Reese) set up properly. I did have quite a bit of sway, but installed the Reese dual cam setup and that pretty much took care of it. While the van would pull the TT, it didn't have a lot of reserve power. I found that even on the level, it pulled much better at 50-60 mph. If you tried to go much faster than that, you had to bury your foot in the throttle and the gas mileage plummeted from 11 mph to 9 mph or less.

It was awsome in snow. I had a few problems, although nothing major, that I fixed myself (retired mech/engineering tech). I hated that van, mostly because is was a SOB to work on. My 06 1/2 ton silverado is much easier to work on. And, it pulls the TT much easier. Of course now the DW and I are looking at bigger TT's. I want to be careful and not get too close to the max towing like I did with the Astro.

2011 Silverado 1500 Ext. Cab 5.3, 6 spd auto, 3.42
2000 Jayco Qwest 30'

Posted By: campknitter on 09/23/07 12:37pm

I pulled the Orbit home from the Dealer yesterday. I don't have the sway bar yet, will have that installed on Tuesday. Only felt normal slight movement when a oil tanker passed me, but the traffic wasn't flowing more than 55 mph either due to congestion.

The dealer had the dual propane tanks full, and the water tank 2/3 full for camping readiness.

I must say the tow home exceeded my expectations. My stock mirrors had good vision, I still have to adjust the extended mirrors.

I accelerated gently letting the Safari kick in at it's own pace and it did well. The Orbit tracked well behind the van. My brake controller was setup for my santa fe popup, but it seems to be at the right setting for the Orbit.

Driving conditions were on Freeway, Country Roads, city stop & go, as well as hills and flats on the trip home.

DH got nervous when I went over a curb.. but that was my only misshap.

I have most of the stuff loaded into the Orbit now, just need to add our pillows and a few other odds and ends.

True towing test will be in October where we plan to go to Eastern WA. We will be going thru 3 passes to get where we want to go, so will see how we do then.(Tiger, Snoqualmie & Blewett)

November we will head for some days at the ocean.

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