Chevy Astro for Tow - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-28-2007, 12:30 PM   #15
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I towed my Fiber Stream with a GMC Safari, twin to the Chevy Astro. It was a good combination. One of the early members of this group, Charles Watts, highly recommended the combo. At the moment I have a V8 Chevy Silverado which IMO is overkill. If I find the right one and the money is right, I'm probably going back to the Astro/Safari as a tow vehicle. My passenger was canine so the passenger footwell being small wasn't an issue for me.

I had the 4.3L Safari. I think the manufacturer recommended a weight distribution hitch. I never had one. Or a sway bar either for that matter. If I were to do it again, I'd add both. That's because I'd get the new-to-me (Astro's and Safari's have been discontinued) vehicle with the intention of keeping it. Check your manual and a dealer for what's recommended for your vehicle's configuration. For your getting it home trip I don't think you absolutely have to have that equipment. BUT, now that it has been mentioned, I think you will feel safer if you did. Go slow until you build up your confidence and then obey the speed limits and you should be okay. I would get a bit of a sway if I went over 65. My preferred high speed for towing was about 50-60 mph. One of the biggest newbie fears is backing up. If you sight far enough ahead you'd be amazed how long you can get by without having to do that. (My record was three years.) There is always a turnaround down the road. I would suggest that ultimately you get something for rear end lift. My van had airbags that lifted the rear end. You don't need extended mirrors. The Astro and the Fiber Stream are perfectly aligned in that way. You may want to add a fisheye circle to your mirrors to extend your viewing area.

Let us know when you get your trailer. We like pictures. Are you getting the trailer from someone on this board?
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Old 01-28-2007, 01:25 PM   #16
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I towed my Fiber Stream with a GMC Safari, twin to the Chevy Astro. It was a good combination. One of the early members of this group, Charles Watts, highly recommended the combo. At the moment I have a V8 Chevy Silverado which IMO is overkill. If I find the right one and the money is right, I'm probably going back to the Astro/Safari as a tow vehicle. My passenger was canine so the passenger footwell being small wasn't an issue for me.

I had the 4.3L Safari. I think the manufacturer recommended a weight distribution hitch. I never had one. Or a sway bar either for that matter. If I were to do it again, I'd add both. That's because I'd get the new-to-me (Astro's and Safari's have been discontinued) vehicle with the intention of keeping it. Check your manual and a dealer for what's recommended for your vehicle's configuration. For your getting it home trip I don't think you absolutely have to have that equipment. BUT, now that it has been mentioned, I think you will feel safer if you did. Go slow until you build up your confidence and then obey the speed limits and you should be okay. I would get a bit of a sway if I went over 65. My preferred high speed for towing was about 50-60 mph. One of the biggest newbie fears is backing up. If you sight far enough ahead you'd be amazed how long you can get by without having to do that. (My record was three years.) There is always a turnaround down the road. I would suggest that ultimately you get something for rear end lift. My van had airbags that lifted the rear end. You don't need extended mirrors. The Astro and the Fiber Stream are perfectly aligned in that way. You may want to add a fisheye circle to your mirrors to extend your viewing area.

Let us know when you get your trailer. We like pictures. Are you getting the trailer from someone on this board?
you don't know how much more courage i have now after seeing your photo!!! thanks so much for the information. Today when i was eyeing up to see what i thought about mirrors i couldn't imagine needing them but i needed anothers opinion!!! Thanks..

i am a bit cautious about giving out information until the title is in hand, if you know what i mean!!! but i will put photos on as soon as i get back to Eugene in about a week!!!

i LOL when i read about you not backing up for three years.. i plan on practicing a bit when i get home but i might be trying for a new record!!!!!

I can hardly wait to get it!!! it is all very exciting!!! thanks again for all the helpful info... Dee
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Old 01-28-2007, 05:53 PM   #17
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First, welcome to fiberglass travel trailer ownership, Dee! I have yet to see a Fiber Stream "in person", but they are an interesting design with some great features, and there are some very helpful Fiber Stream owners here in FiberglassRV.

Quote:
... I have the receiving hitch.. it has a hitch and ball with the trailer. I will need to hook up a 6 prong light connector. Does anyone know what else i will need to pull this safely.. will i need the sway bar right away??..
I assume by "sway bar" you mean a friction-type sway control, such as the Reese part 26660
Quote:
Originally posted by Reese Sway Control web page
[b]Friction Sway Control uses friction to resist pivotal movement and thereby works against the effects of induced sway. It operates on the principle of "stiffening" the coupling between the tow vehicle and trailer. The degree of "stiffening" or friction is adjusted to suit various trailer weights and towing conditions. Its operation is simple and uncomplicated. It doesn't prevent the generation of sway; it simply works to resist the forces once they have started.
I think it's better to call something like this a "[b]friction-type sway control", because "sway bar" is used to mean some very different things (including this type of sway control), and there are various kinds of sway controls.

I know this could start a heated debate, but I don't think there should be any reason to use a friction-type sway control with a trailer, and especially not with a tandem-axle design such as the Fiber Stream. I don't use one with my Boler 1700, which is longer, wider, and heavier than the Fiber Stream, and has only a single axle. I tow with a Toyota Sienna, so unless the Astro is a significantly inferior tow vehicle, I would not expect a problem.

If you do use a friction-type sway control, please note that while the operation may be simple, the adjustment is full of potential problems... education is called for.
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Old 01-28-2007, 06:16 PM   #18
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I have a 2002 Astro and an 81' Burro 13 ft.
I have towed the Burro on the flats and in the mountains of Montana/Wyoming. And all over the midwest.

You sometimes forget the trailer is there. I wouldn't worry about towing with the Astro.
I use the tow/haul mode and when on hills shift to 3rd gear. Overdrive on flat land works fine. If the car starts to slow down in overdrive ,shift down to 3rd.

The wind from passing trucks push the van more than they bother the trailer.
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:11 PM   #19
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First, welcome to fiberglass travel trailer ownership, Dee! I have yet to see a Fiber Stream "in person", but they are an interesting design with some great features, and there are some very helpful Fiber Stream owners here in FiberglassRV.
I assume by "sway bar" you mean a friction-type sway control, such as the Reese part 26660
I think it's better to call something like this a "[b]friction-type sway control", because "sway bar" is used to mean some very different things (including this type of sway control), and there are various kinds of sway controls.

I know this could start a heated debate, but I don't think there should be any reason to use a friction-type sway control with a trailer, and especially not with a tandem-axle design such as the Fiber Stream. I don't use one with my Boler 1700, which is longer, wider, and heavier than the Fiber Stream, and has only a single axle. I tow with a Toyota Sienna, so unless the Astro is a significantly inferior tow vehicle, I would not expect a problem.

If you do use a friction-type sway control, please note that while the operation may be simple, the adjustment is full of potential problems... education is called for.
Hi Brian, thanks alot for the information. I am taking notes here and am feeling more confident!! will see the FS on tuesday but i am 98% sure i am buying it!!!

Will give everyone an update after the purchase!!! thanks again dee
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:14 PM   #20
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I have a 2002 Astro and an 81' Burro 13 ft.
I have towed the Burro on the flats and in the mountains of Montana/Wyoming. And all over the midwest.

You sometimes forget the trailer is there. I wouldn't worry about towing with the Astro.
I use the tow/haul mode and when on hills shift to 3rd gear. Overdrive on flat land works fine. If the car starts to slow down in overdrive ,shift down to 3rd.

The wind from passing trucks push the van more than they bother the trailer.
I will try what you are recommending with the overdrive and the shifting to 3rd if it slows down..thanks

i am excited to see the combination of my 2001 and the FS together..should make a handsome pair!!! dee
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Old 01-28-2007, 07:31 PM   #21
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Quote:
As far as the weight of the trailer, you'll be OK. But as for the 430lbs tongue weight, i'm not sure. I have a AWD Chevy Astro with a 3.42. According to the GM owners manual, I can tow up to 4500lbs with my vehicle. If you have a AWD Chevy Astro, with a 3.73, you can tow up to 5000lbs. If you have a two wheel drive Astro with a 3.42, you can tow 5000lbs, and if you have a two wheel drive Astro, with the 3.73, you can tow up to 5500lbs with your vehicle. Yves.
My Astro LT van is 21' long, with 2 sliding side doors, so I wonder how much it will tow ? It just has a 1-1/4" receiver hitch though. Maybe make it into a camper, and not tow one !!! Happy Trails, Penny

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Old 01-28-2007, 08:08 PM   #22
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My Astro LT van is 21' long, with 2 sliding side doors...
Very trick. I've seen the story of a "doubled" VW van, but never an Astro.

It has lots of wheelbase, so it certainly would be stable for towing... if it only had the drivetrain strength to move all that van and a trailer! Definitely more of a camper conversion opportunity.

Penny, is this actually yours? I'm never completely sure when someone's joking around here...
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Old 01-29-2007, 02:33 PM   #23
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FWIW: My Safari was an XLT. The smaller van is definitely a capable tug. BUT, I prefer the longer version.
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Old 01-29-2007, 05:49 PM   #24
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Very trick. I've seen the story of a "doubled" VW van, but never an Astro.

It has lots of wheelbase, so it certainly would be stable for towing... if it only had the drivetrain strength to move all that van and a trailer! Definitely more of a camper conversion opportunity.

Penny, is this actually yours? I'm never completely sure when someone's joking around here...
We never joke here Brian--Everything is dead serious
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Old 01-29-2007, 06:06 PM   #25
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I know this could start a heated debate, but I don't think there should be any reason to use a friction-type sway control with a trailer, and especially not with a tandem-axle design such as the Fiber Stream. I don't use one with my Boler 1700, which is longer, wider, and heavier than the Fiber Stream, and has only a single axle. I tow with a Toyota Sienna, so unless the Astro is a significantly inferior tow vehicle, I would not expect a problem.

If you do use a friction-type sway control, please note that while the operation may be simple, the adjustment is full of potential problems... education is called for.
No heated debate necessary, Brian but with an Astro/Safari there is definitely a use for a friction sway control bar. Sway can be caused by a variety of factors, many of them having to do with the tow vehicle itself, and the Astro/Safari has some of them including tall and generally soft sidewalls on the tires, as well as soft rear suspension. They have high freeboard and are affected by side winds. I towed a 1961 Airstream Bambi 16' trailer with a '98 Astro, and sway control was most definitely in order. It was a great combination for towing, almost ideal; it just needed the proper equipment.

Roger
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Old 01-29-2007, 06:39 PM   #26
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Okay Roger, that leads me to an obvious conclusion, bang on the topic of this thread: a stock Astro is indeed a "significantly inferior tow vehicle", compared to a typical modern minivan, at least in some respects.

I agree that the outdated tires (this is an old model of van) are likely culprits, but I think I would upgrade them and add air bags to the rear suspension - to actually improve the vehicle - before I stuck on anything at the hitch. While owner-added items do not change the capacity rating of the van, they can improve the behaviour.

The design is tall and slab-sided, but not really more so than other minivans. I suspect that a bigger issue with yaw control (and thus sway) might be that the wheelbase isn't really long, and the extended version (the later years came only with the extended body) only adds length behind the axle, making the towing situation worse. Maybe Penny's limo Astro is the right setup...
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Old 01-29-2007, 06:52 PM   #27
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I don't think that "inherently inferior" describes it at all. They're very competent when equipped properly. The drivetrain is nearly bullet-proof, they handle well, they have some really nice features (barn-door rear hatch for example), competent all wheel drive, and a full 1/2 truck ladder frame. They're comfortable and have pleasant interior amenities. Frankly, IMHO they're a much more competent minivan than either the Odyssey or Sienna.

Their shortcomings have to do primarily with the rear suspension and the stock tires. I'd guess that a Helwig sway bar and a set of air shocks would do wonders for the suspension, and better tires (read stiffer sidewall) would greatly improve the handling. They're relatively easy and inexpensive mods that turn a good vehicle into a great one.

Roger
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Old 01-29-2007, 07:03 PM   #28
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[quote]

I agree that the outdated tires (this is an old model of van) are likely culprits, but I think I would upgrade them and add air bags to the rear suspension - to actually improve the vehicle - before I stuck on anything at the hitch.


I am an old guy that has towed a 6 horse trailer for several years, boat trailers, camp trailers and assorted utility trailers and have never had the need for a sway control.
If I had a sway problem I remedied the problem instead of putting on a band-aid on it.
The sway control, in my opinion, is a band-aid that covers up what could be a very serious problem.

John
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