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Marty Roth

454" GAS MOTORHOME as TOW VEHICLE?

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I'm looking at a 60,000 mile 1993 Holiday Rambler 34ft Motorhome with a Tag Axle on a Chevy chassis with a fuel injected 454 (7.4L) gas engine and 3-speed automatic with O/D.

How would this vehicle perform as a tow vehicle pulling my 30 ft overall enclosed (24ft box with tapered and wedge front) all aluminum car hauler?

The trailer weighs under 4,000lb empty - so add maybe 1,000 lbs with jacks, tools spare stuff, and then maybe another 3,500 - 4,500 lb of car to be hauled;

Trailer weight will be 7,500 - 9,500 pounds.

The actual empty and loaded weights of the Motorhome were not listed, but

GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is either 16K or 18K w/tag (2 sources)

GCWR - Gross Combined Weight rating --------19K or 20K

GAWR - Gross Axle Rating - Front 5,500lb

GAWR - Gross Axle Rating - Rear w/Tag 14,000lb

Trailer and Motorhome are both approximately 11-1/2ft tall (trailer is actually maybe a foot lower, but has Max-Air boxes over the 2 roof vents)

Does this Motorhome have the capacity and the "oomph" to pull the trailer with a Buick, Caddy, or Packard inside, and still handle hills and interstate safely?

The Motorhome will need 9 new tires size 8R19.5

also, both new windshields, and the A/C in dash is not working - blows hot and air comes out of defrost vents instead of dash vents-

7K generator may or may not work, and have not checked out furnace and 2 roof A/C units.

What do these things cost to fix?

We plan to attend most meets and tours over the next few years, and were thinking that a Motorhome might be more convenient than our Suburban/Excursion plus trailer and motels.

Also, what might be the cost comparison of trailering cross-country with the motorhome as compared to motels and restaurants? Fuel vs. lodging?

Thanks for any advice.

Edited by Marty Roth
typos (see edit history)

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Well shucks, Marty, I'll answer the easy question just to get going. 8R19.5 tires seem to bring, at minimum, $175 each, so for 9 with mounting, balancing, tax and such, I'd figure $2000 for tires.

From research on the Internet, it seems that about $800 per side for the windshields is about right, so there's $1600.

Another thread stated that the AC is a "high dollar" item to fix on these, but no costs shown.

Good luck, but as we talked on the phone, remember that the purchase price is just a down payment!!

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Regardless of all the cost issues mentioned by others, I'd be looking at the rear axle ratio. The chassis for those things would have not necessarily had a good gear ratio for towing as they probably were looking for a gear ratio that would be as good as one could get with something as aerodynamic as a rolling brick. Anyway you look at it towing 9,000 lbs is not going to be even remotely fuel efficient. I suspect in the area of 5-6 mpg with that much weight if you are lucky.

Chances are the roof A/C units are Coleman and probably cheaper to just replace than to try to fix. New ones would be more efficient than those of nearly 20 years ago.

You should also have the tranny thoroughly checked or rebuilt before you even think about a vehicle that age towing anything. Tranny's that old even with low mileage can develop issues faster than you can say "oh crap." You don't want to be calling a heavy duty wrecker out to pull you in.

Something else to consider is parking that rig at night. Most places like a KOA haven't the facilities to handle the trailer and the motor home. Even worse, there are some of the better campgrounds that won't even allow a motor home of that age on their grounds. Should it come to motels, finding one with truck parking is not always easy. I've made many trips across the country with my pickup or van pulling a 30+ foot car trailer and parking at decent motels comes harder to come-by every trip I make. I have sometimes found it necessary to sleep on the queen size fold down bed in the van at times.

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Buddy of mine had a hitch put on one he eventually bought from a girlfriend and towed with it. But it was shorter, maybe 26ft tops. Not much longer than the car trailer. It would tow a steel car trailer loaded with a '53 Ford 1/2 ton bread truck full of car parts without any problems. He keeps it in Florida now to haul a stock car with.

Gas milage will be in the crapper, though, these things never seem to get more than 10 even in a 1/2 ton pickup.

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Marty,

I have owned two motorhomes. Don't do it! Gasoline costs will eat you alive. If you want to have your own home with you, a motorhome is a great idea. If you are trying to save money, run away from it. From personal experience, an older motorhome with a 454 can tow a trailer, but I towed much lighter cars than you do. Mine was a 27 foot Winnebago, I would guess you will get about 5 mpg with that rig if you are lucky. Call me if you want me to talk you out of it. If you want to tow with a motorhome, find something with a Ford V10.

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Hey Marty,Gotta agree with Matt regarding the mileage,your BIGGEST concern should be tongue weight,I have seen MANY motorhomes both class C and A that are actually torn apart cause there is not enough framework behind the rearend of the coach.:eek:Siding buckled,framework torn:eek: and thats the bright side.I am sure you can imagine the worst.My Brother tows his 28' Goldrush tri axle trailer with a 28'Class A coach with a Ford V10 and heres the important part...has ALWAYS used a TOAD between the motorhome and the trailer.I am sure someone will chime in with a pic of a Toad,as i am not capable.Take Care.diz

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The frame ends short of the body of the motorhome - most likely

The frame extension is for the body only - not for towing

You need to look for a newer Class A with a full length frame

that is designed - engineered - listed to tow the trailer you want

Jim

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Marty,

The short answer is KEEP LOOKING.

That coach uses all it's power to pull itself down the road. Amoung other things it will get 4 MPG towing and slow to 20 MPH on hills. Keep Looking.

Cost comparison? There is none, hotels and meal equal about the same as RVing, (without and repairs added to the trip). Most of us that tour with RV's do it so we can #1 Take our pets, #2 Sleep in beds that haven't had the bedding used for DNA evidence. #3 Sleep in a known comfortable bed. #4 So we can incorporate the tour trip onto additional

vacations going and coming. #5 The parking area at the tours is like staying in the "Pit Area" and adds to the fun of the tour. #6 Regardless of what anybody tells you, a motor home is the equivalent of 4 more old cars to take car of. #7 We know all the above and still like it. We drive an old Airstream Land Yacht diesel pusher and get 11 MPG towing, same as our Yukon. We tow an open trailer most of the time because the box trailer is like towing a sailboat with the sail up! (Mileage and power goes way down)

I know of one for sale if you might be interested.

Paul

post-32318-143138787894_thumb.jpg

Edited by Paul Dobbin
added a thought (see edit history)

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Hello,

Don't do it. I sell motor homes for a living. All above are valid points. The tow rating on that HR is only 5,000 Lbs. No matter what you do you are opening your self up to liability issues if you are over weight.

What you need is a diesel pusher with a tow rating of 10,000 Lbs. Not all diesel pushers are rated at 10,000!

Actually. the best vehicle would be a Super C motor home with diesel engine. Typically a Kodiak chassis GM. Shorter than what you will find in a diesel pusher with 10,000 Lb tow capacity.

Best Regards,

Scot

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Scott is right on with his suggestion for a towing motor home. I tow with a 32 foot diesel pusher and get 9.5 to 10 mpg this is my second motor home the first one was a ford gas powered 24 foot and it used up three engines in 90000 miles and got 5to7 mpg.

Al

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Marty let me throw my two cents in. I also was wondering what the best (cheapest) way to haul a car around might be until I saw how one of our CCCA members did it. He uses a pickup with a slide out camper to use on trips when he hauls his car with car trailor in tow. Gives you a frig and bathroom and a place to sleep . You then have a truck when you need that . I did this and it has work out well for us these last several years but new campers and diesel trucks are not cheap. Maybe look for used. I can get better than10 mile per gal even hauling camper and car trailor......

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I did haul with a truck and slide in camper for more the 10 years and was on the road for 30 to 60 days at a time the slide in was cramped, Went the motor home route for comfort.

Al

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Go with a motorhome, but a Class-A diesel pusher. I cannot speak to a Class-C diesel having never owned one. Stay away from a V-10 Ford. They are notorious for blowing plugs right out of the heads. And the tow rating is no better than the 460 or the 454 or even the dodge 440. Diesel is the best. I dis-agree about the price of motels and such, equaling the gas of the coach. That might be true if you stay in a roach motel, but you can't get a decent one for much under $70 and your stuck with restaurants and you most likely won't find one that is near where you want to be. With my Cat diesel and a 100 gal tank, sure if you are empty when you fill up the shock will hit you but you won't have to fill up for 800 miles or so. If you plan your trip well in advance you pop 20 gals a week over a period of time and be ready to go. As someone else said your own sheets with your own DNA on them, your own food when you want it, your pets(our main reason). The trick is finding one in good shape at a decent price. The trade off is you can get a newer gas coach but not be able to pull what you want or get an older diesel and pull whatever. Also don't be alarmed at a higher mileage on the odeometer, I just bought a 2000 Georgie boy diesel pusher with 75,000 on it. With a diesel that is hardley broken in, you can look for over 100,000 on it an then some. When I bought our last coach it had 22k on it and when we traded it in on the diesel we only about 50K. so 28K in 4 years. Thats 7000 a year. With that kind of travel in 4 years this will not have but a little over 100,ooo on it and still be running strong.

ALK

PS BTW your located in a fairly good part of the country for buying, but better yet is to look in Florida. The snowbirds come down and sell their motorhome to mobile home dealers as trade-ins on the mobile homes. Then the dealers have to get rid of them.

Edited by AlK (see edit history)

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Marty, A lot of good advice, the best of which is do NOT buy the Motorhome you described or be willing to dump a lot of money in it. It is like looking at a rusted old car in a barn and thinking "I wouldn't restore that car if they gave it to me". I hauled my classics all over the US in the 90's behind a 33ft Airstream with a 454 with no major problems. I pulled a heavy old 24ft enclosed trailer. Modifications included a full Banks set up including headers along with a two speed auxillary transmission behind the 3 speed automatic. Also added a second transmission cooler and used Amsoil throughout. The key to gas towing is to be able to keep the engine rpm in the max torque range. Sold the Motorhome in 97 or 98 with no major drive train problems. Brakes are a major weakness on the GM Motorhome chassis and the tag axles may have electric trailer brakes. We converted my tag to standard brakes which helped braking a lot. We also beefed up the frame behind the rear axle. I'm positive you can find a good diesel pusher with an Allison 5 or 6 speed automatic for what you will have in your gasser when you are finished with it. I never tried to compare the cost of a Motorhome with going the motel route. We traveled with pets and sleeping in your own bed is priceless. Bob Smits

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" Stay away from a V-10 Ford" From AIK's post.

This is true of the earlier Ford V10 engines. Sometime around 2001 or 2002, I believe they corrected this issue by making the heads thicker thus having the ability to put more spark plug threads in the head. Also changed the plug replacement interval down from 100,000 miles.

Class A diesels can be had very resaonably. I have a nice HR for $36,000. Plenty of them out there.

When you take into consideration that you can cook your own meals, sleep in your own bed, shower in your own shower, you can't beat a motor home.

Best,

Scot

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We plan to attend most meets and tours over the next few years, and were thinking that a Motorhome might be more convenient than our Suburban/Excursion plus trailer and motels.

Also, what might be the cost comparison of trailering cross-country with the motorhome as compared to motels and restaurants? Fuel vs. lodging?

Thanks for any advice.

Notwithstanding all previous comments, including my own, on the bottom line question the only way you can get to the correct answer is to look at the total initial cost of any given Motorhome and then do a Ben Franklin balance sheet to determine if a Motorhome is as cost efficient as what you are already doing.

I'm going to suggest no. Assuming an initial investment could be held to $50,000 (not likely) you still have to figure on a higher fuel expenditure and a lot of ongoing maintenance you don't now experience. Plumbing in a Motorhome can be the cause of a lot of issues and make for something that must be carefully tended to in any climate where freezing temperatures are common for even a couple of nights/days out of the year, whether being used or not. Then there are generators which will always present issues because of today's gasoline and carburetors developing issues. Will you be paying for space to store/park the thing when not in use? There are cities with ordinances that prevent keeping a motor home at you home. Lots of stuff to figure upon!

Getting back to the $50,000 figure and a balance sheet. On that raw figure alone at today's cost of restaurant eating and good motel/hotel room cost it would take roughly 225 days and nights to expend an equal amount. Add maintenance and increased fuel cost and the number of days may get to very close to a year.

You may only save around 50% on food cost if you are lucky, the bed will unlikely be as comfortable as a good motel/hotel and who the heck enjoys taking a shower in a 2 X 3 foot stall with a very limited hot water supply?

Camping out is a Holiday Inn, a LaQuinta, a Court yard by Marriott, or other without a 24 hour restaurant or one next door.

Edited by Jim_Edwards (see edit history)

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Have you considered a nice full sized van conversion? They can be equipped with many comforts and conveniences, including sleeping areas. They should also have the performance and towing capabilities of a large SUV.

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In response to Jim Edwards post above.

1. "Assuming an initial investment could be held to $50,000 (not likely)"

I posted previously that I have a nice Holiday Rambler (one of the better built brands) diesel coach for $36,000. Not a fluke as this is at a dealer. Many of them are out in the world at that price.

2. "Plumbing in a Motorhome can be the cause of a lot of issues and make for something that must be carefully tended to in any climate where freezing temperatures are common for even a couple of nights/days out of the year, whether being used or not."

Winterizing a Motorhome's plumbing system takes 15 to 30 minutes (depends on the model/make/components) once you know what you are doing. Just a few gallons of RV antifreeze. If you are using the Motorhome Home during freezing weather the furnace keeps plumbing from freezing. (some gas Motorhomes this is not true)

3. "Then there are generators which will always present issues because of today's gasoline and carburetors developing issues"

The only Motorhome that would tow the weight that is being discussed is a diesel. Therefore the generator is going to be a diesel (no carb or ethanol) or possibly (not likely) a propane unit which would not suffer from the ethanol fuel issues. As long as a generator is run underload monthly, very few issues are had. It is the generators that sit that are problems. Just like a car that sits and is not exercised.

4. "You may only save around 50% on food cost if you are lucky, the bed will unlikely be as comfortable as a good motel/hotel and who the heck enjoys taking a shower in a 2 X 3 foot stall with a very limited hot water supply?"

50% depends on you. However, you are more than likely going to eat healthier and better than depending on a resteraunt daily.

As far as the bed. When was the last time you were in a Motorhome? What do you want to sleep on? No problem with putting in a memory foam mattress, select comfort mattress or a pillow top mattress. All the same options at home except a water bed. Best part is there is no one elses DNA on the mattress! (we sanitize mattresses and upholstory before selling) Also, I am not wondering if the maid used the same wiper on the commode as she did on the glasses, sink etc. in the bathroom. (this has been captured on hidden cameras and been on TV if you dont't think this happens)

As far as a 2 X 3 shower. How wide is you shower/tub at home? Many showers are larger than that in a Motorhome. As far as limited hot water, many ways to have more than enought hot water. Most Motorhome water heaters can run on propane and 120 Volts. When you run it on both at the same time you greatly increase the hot water supply and recovery rate. Want unlimited hot water? Put in a tankless water heater. I have taken plenty of showers in RVS and have not run out of hot water.

Jim, not trying to pick a fight with you. Just annoying when people comment on Motorhomes and RVS in general when their information is out of date or just assumptions, or from others out of date experience. RVing in general grew during the economic downturn specifically because of it being a very economical way to travel and more enjoyable way to travel. Better visibility than a car or PU truck, more conveinent also. Bathroom is there, microwave, and you do not need to pack and unpack suitcases etc.

I am not trying to sell one from me. As I said previously, there are many Motorhomes available.

Also in response to Bleach's comment about the conversion van. Be careful as many times the weight carrying and tow capacity is greatly reduced from it's non converted state due to the added weight of the body conversion and added goodies that get put into the van by the converter.

Just my two cents. Probably not even worth that though!

Scot

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I must confess I was thinking about the prospect, sometime down the road, of going the Diesel Pusher route. Have done some of the comparisons mentioned in this post, and still am not convinced it would be the right path for me.

Reading this thread reminds me of some of the maintenance challenges I have with my 41 ft Chris Craft. The diesels run great but the luxury systems, like HVAC, plumbing and electrical, just keep on needing replacement or rebuild.

And considering storage for one thing, I could not keep it at my home in Connecticut. Would have to store it in upstate NY, but would want it in my barn, not outside. So there you go, I would now have construction costs to extend the barn.

Advantage or disadvantage?, hmmmm..........but I may make the plunge someday.

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My 2 cents. I bought a Winnebago 34ft ,454,aod in very nice shape with 32k for $10,000. I haul a 53 Buick on a 22 ft flatbed and get 8.7-8.9 mpg. Yea it slows a bit on the hills but I would not travel anyother way. My wife loves the convenience of being fully self contained. Been to HAN several times, even to Goodguys 125 miles from here. It will tow fine just dont push it and enjoy the ride. Rich

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Looking into B Motorhome (Van conversion)Mercedes Benz 3L V6 188 HP with 6500 pounds towing capacity on Sprinter chassis. Any one had any experience?

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31DH, I can tow an open trailer with our cars on our 02 Chev Trailblazer. It has the I6 275 hp engine. I added an additional coolant radiator to keep the transmission within a normal temps. I also keep the transmission in 3rd gear. I figure I have towed about 20,000 miles over the past few years. I also change the transmission fluid every two years. I now have 180,000 on the truck with no problems.

With that said, you should be able to do the same with your MH. I would put on the largest transmission cooler you can fit without effecting your engine cooling. I guarantee that you cannot pull an enclosed trailer without damage.

Is your MH set up for towing with a 2 inch box receiver hooked to the frame? And do you have the electrical connections for electric brakes, which is a must.

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The Merc is a Diesel and is equiped for towing. Fri loaded an antique on trailor took to dealer and hooked onto motorhome then took it for a drive and was able to travel up to 80 mph which I thought was OK(but no wind or hills)

Someone sugested a GM Duramax would have more get up and go.

Edited by 31DH (see edit history)

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