TV: 1995 Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon ? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-01-2013, 03:24 PM   #1
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TV: 1995 Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon ?

I am beginning to explore fiberglass trailers, and I am also researching tow vehicle requirements. I own a beautiful 1995 Buick Roadmaster Station Wagon that has been meticulously maintained. It is my pride and joy, and I plan on keeping it a long time. It is an extremely comfortable roadtrip car with plenty of cargo space and gets 20-22 mpg on long highway drives.

For those unfamiliar with it, it has a detuned LT1 engine and is rear wheel drive. My car has the optional towing package which is described as follows: The tow package adds 2.93 gears and a limited slip differential, heavy duty cooling system including oil and transmission coolers, and a factory installed self-leveling rear suspension consisting of air shocks, a height sensor between the rear axle and body and an on-board air compressor. The tow package combines one conventional fan driven mechanically from the engine alongside one electric fan, offset to the left.

The weight limit is stated as 5000 lbs, but I don't want to abuse the Buick. Based on input from my first post in the "Introductions" sub-forum, I have to rule out one of the bigger, heavier Big Foot models or a larger Escape if I use the station wagon as a TV.

I am wondering if there are any negatives to using this car to tow, say, a Scamp 16 or similar. Is anyone on this forum using a similar GM B-body wagon for towing?
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:06 PM   #2
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Your Buick is certainly the last of the Big Ones from Detroit and may do quite well with almost any of the small to mid sized FGRV's. Here's a link to a Buick group and a thread on this very topic:
1995 Buick Roadmaster - Why did I buy this? - Buick Forums

You didn't mention mileage but, if high, it might be a good time to look at less thought about components such as ball joints, u-joints and other suspension parts, not to mention tire age etc. before towing.
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Old 10-01-2013, 04:18 PM   #3
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We are towing with a rear wheel drive car. Works great.

You will have no problem towing any glass egg assuming the car is in good condition.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:08 PM   #4
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While a Bigfoot may (or may not) be a bit much for your Buick, I certainly would not hesitate to use that platform to tow a 19' Escape. And my only reservation about the 21' Escape would be possibly the tongue weight. (Same issue with the 17' Casita Deluxe, they are quite nose heavy.) You have a very capable tug.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:38 PM   #5
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Have your transmission fluid changed prior to towing.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:55 PM   #6
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Here is a good blurb on a Road Master towing a TT.

Trailer Life Magazine Open Roads Forum: Tow Vehicles: New Tow Vehicle
Attached Thumbnails
roadmaster 2.jpg  
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:59 PM   #7
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Thanks for the responses. It sounds like I'm good to go with a light tongue weight trailer.

The car has 95,000 miles on it. About 2000 miles ago I had the shocks replaced and other suspension items checked out and refreshed as needed. I'll have the transmission serviced this month before it goes into winter storage (It is a North Carolina car and has never been exposed to Michigan winters, and I aim to keep it that way!)

Next summer when I return to Michigan and get it out of the garage and on the road again, I know I'll need to address the 100,000 mile maintenance list. This includes changing the Optispark, wires, plugs, etc.

When friends and relatives visit, everyone seems to want to ride in the wagon. I've had seven adults pile in, and then the on board compressor cranks up and balances the load, which the passengers find thrilling.

I keep visualizing my wagon towing something like the Lil Snoozy customized with "woody" panels on the trailer. I wish I was good at photo shop!
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:04 PM   #8
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I towed my Casita FD16 from MA to FL last winter for two months with my 1988 Grand Marquis Colony Park wagon with no issues at all. You should be fine in the Roadmaster with most of the fiberglass campers.

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Old 10-01-2013, 09:24 PM   #9
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Sounds like a fun plan.
FWIW: Be aware of the overall width of the Little Snoozy axle, it's overall width is right at (if not over) the max. allowed.
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Old 10-01-2013, 11:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Miller View Post
FWIW: Be aware of the overall width of the Little Snoozy axle, it's overall width is right at (if not over) the max. allowed.
That was true of Mike Magee's Lil Snoozy, which was inexplicably built with an axle (and matching fender positions) six inches too wide (102" overall); however, generally they are the manufacturer's specified width of 96". With the wheels outboard of the body, this is unusually wide, but not a problem for most owners.
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Old 10-02-2013, 09:26 AM   #11
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Thanks for the photo, Big O. I have a soft spot for the Colony Park.

I have read about the issues with Mike Magee's trailer. I will be visiting Lil Snoozy this winter. I am kidding about the "woody" graphic, for me at least. The wagon often draws enough attention as it is.

Does the installed suspension system on my car mean that a weight distribution hitch will probably not be needed?
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:05 AM   #12
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Weight Distribution and Leveling are two different things. The former is intended to put more of the tongue weight on the front wheels, the latter is just to keep the vehicle level.

We have auto-leveling on the GMC Denali (Suburban) we tow the heavier (T.W. = 350 lbs) Coleman with, but we also use a Weight Distributing hitch.

BTW: You may have just opened a Pandora's Box of WD hitch discussions.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:07 AM   #13
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Your Buick has axle load limits which are displayed on info stickers or stamped plates usually found on the lower door post on the drivers side.

If when loaded ready for travel you are exceeding the rear axle rating then you need to lighten the load or get a WDH installed.

There are also other reasons to use a WDH.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:34 AM   #14
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An interesting choice, of personal interest to me because some of childhood memories are of family trips in an earlier generation of the GM B-body wagon. For a more current perspective, these wagons are about the same weight and interior length as a current "minivan" such as my Sienna, although the old wagons were significantly longer in both the hood and rear overhang. The Roadmaster has a much larger engine than my Sienna, and about the same power as a current Sienna.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drstock View Post
Does the installed suspension system on my car mean that a weight distribution hitch will probably not be needed?
Maybe. It means that there's no need to use a WDH to avoid rear suspension sag, but the air suspension doesn't change the fact that the suspension has a capacity limit, known as the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR). As already explained, this should be on a placard (sticker) on the driver's door jamb or door edge... if GM was doing that in 1995.

If the load on the rear axle is too high for it to handle (even though it looks fine since the air springs pump up), the only fixes are to reduce the cargo/passengers in the back of the car, reduce the tongue weight of the trailer, or use a WDH to shift load to the other axles. The trailers being considered are unlikely to have enough tongue weight to be a problem by themselves, but I don't know if the plan to carry piles of cast iron in the back of the car

This axle limitation and the purpose of a WDH is presumably why the owner's manual contains this statement (as referenced in the Wikipedia page; I don't have a copy of the manual):
Quote:
Ordered with the towing package, the 94-96 Roadmaster was advertised to tow up to 5000 pounds, although the Estate Wagon owner's manual extended that to 7,000 lbs when using a weight distributing hitch, dual sway controls, increasing the rear tire pressure to 35 psi and disabling the Electronic Level Control.
The other limit to watch for is the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) - the limit for the weight of the vehicle with passengers, cargo, and trailer tongue weight. This wagon is very much like a light-duty full-size pickup truck in size, construction, and components (but with a short wheelbase - only 115.9"). The capability of these vehicles increases with time, and yet owners of even current pickups are finding that they can't reach 5000 pounds of trailer plus their passengers and cargo in the truck without making the truck too heavy (exceeding GVWR).

We never towed with our old Chevy wagon; I can only guess that the Roadmaster would handle a ton or more of trailer without problems.
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