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Old 05-09-2020, 06:19 PM   #1
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New to it all

I am looking at getting a travel trailer and totally new to it. It's an opportunity that kind of just fell into my lap but I've never even considered having one before. I have an older truck, I'm a bit concerned about towing with, I guess just because it's not new. The trailer is I think a 2006 or 2007 Solaris 276sr but I'm waiting on confirmation on that, I haven't seen the trailer yet but it's in good condition and it has a hensley hitch on it. My truck is a 1997 GMC Sierra 2500 7.4l 4x4. I've been towing horse trailers since I've had my drivers license but this is a whole different world, a bit intimidating.
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:39 AM   #2
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Welcome mssunline,

Your 2500 truck suspension is a good match weight wise for the T276SR. As for the pulling Your 7.4L (454 CI) should be up to the task but need to check a few things. Do not know which rear axle ratio you have, but the older trucks were higher than the newer ones and the larger (higher) ratio helps when towing. And what transmission and number of gears does it have?

As far a pulling, the camper will have a little more wind resistance then a normal horse trailer as the camper is a full 8 feet wide and 10 1/2 to 11 ft tall to the wind. But, depending on the total weight of the loaded horse trailers, it may not be that much. How many total pounds of horse trailer do you tow, and is it the trailer a gooseneck or conventional ball tow behind the truck? If you tow heavy horse trailers all the time with your truck, and you can give us the total weight, trailer height and width, then we may be able to compare how the camper will feel behind the truck as you tow with it now.

If you are going to use the Hensley hitch that the camper has with it, then it will take care of the weight distribution hitch needs for the truck receiver hitch on the back and bringing the front end of the truck back down. The weight distribution hitch is a need when towing large campers even with a 3/4 or 1 ton truck due to the higher tongue weights of the camper.

Something else to ask, the truck bed, your truck can handle the camper loaded tongue weight and some cargo in the truck bed. But not knowing what you truck bed weight may be, you have to watch you do not overload the rear axle and the GVWR on the truck. Some folks out west hual 2 large quads in the truck bed along with other cargo and then hook a camper on the back. When the loads get that big, then you need to start looking at the weights more closely.

As for the camper, there are some things to look out for on any brand used camper. Water damage, and you may not be able to see it or smell it in the camper. If you can smell musty/mildew in the camper, in cabinets etc, or wrinkled wall paper, those are signs of water damage.

This post talks about a moisture meter where you can scan the inside walls, ceilings, floor, and even the bottom of the camper scanning up. I suggest anyone having a used or new camper get one. These can easily and quickly scan the wall for what the original owner may not even know about. And I'm not saying to not get the camper if you find a small level of water damage, but at least you know going into the deal, it has some and you can choose to take it and correct yourself or lower the purchase price.
https://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/f...per-17613.html

Hope this helps and ask away at any and all questions.

John
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:19 PM   #3
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Thank you so much for responding!
Here are the specs for my truck:
It's an automatic, 4x4 the 7.4l/454 4x4 with the extended cab. I got it used and I was told it had a tow package (like from he dealership) but honestly I only use it for a farm truck and it was more than enough for my little 2 horse trailer and getting hay or whatnot. I never looked into it and the sticker on the door is all worn off. I'm going to assume it has stock suspension since the hitch and brake box seem aftermarket (although in 98, maybe they all looked after market?) I've done a bit of towing with this truck but not much, not regularly. I've towed horse trailers, both tag alongs and gooseneck from little 2 horse up to big full 3 horse slants, but not with this truck.
I'm guessing i'm going to get like 8mpg IF i can tow with this truck so we wont be doing it a lot.

iseecars.com/car/1997-gmc-sierra_2500-specs#styleId=104621

The trailer is actually being offered to me, i'm not buying it (which is insanely generous of these people). Which is why I've never considered having one before, I never considered buying one. I wouldn't be loading anything up really. When taking it I would only really use it to take to weekend dog shows with friends. So normal clothing and food and a few dogs, their stuff, really nothing more than I could also pack into into my little Honda Fit (no 4 wheelers or bars of gold or medium sized ponies). I imagine I would take it to shows in the state, maybe to California or a neighboring state. I wouldn't be driving across country but I am in the west and there are mountains you have to drive up to get just about anywhere.
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Old 05-10-2020, 10:15 PM   #4
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Hi mssunline,

Your guess at 8 mpg is really close. Pulling the large wind resistance of an 8 ft wide 10 to 11 ft tall camper will cut your highway mileage just about in half. It happens on many trucks. It is not the weight, but the wind that will create the biggest effect going 55 mph down the highway.

Here is a clickable link to the truck specs you showed https://www.iseecars.com/car/1997-gm...styleId=104621

That generic listing shows you have the normal 6,000# rear axle capacity of a 2500 truck of that era. And still is today. The GVWR is at 8,600 which is lower than a current day 2500HD, but not a major amount different. The truck still has the suspension to hold up the camper with a weight distribution hitch.

Something to check is the truck receiver hitch rating at the back of the truck. You mentioned aftermarket, well maybe and maybe not. GM did install receivers back then with the tow package. This pic is off of a 1500 GMC, but the style on the 2500's back then looked the same, but the sticker ratings could be different. See if your looks like this. The large square cross tube is a GM trait of that era.


What you are looking for on the sticker, assuming yours is still there, is the "Weight Distributing Max Tongue Weight" rating. It might show 1,000# or maybe 1,200#. Or if someone added it, it could be less than that. That will need to be checked that it has enough rating for the heavy tongue weight on the camper.

The truck spec you linked did not show what rear axle is in the truck only what was available or if you had the factory tow package. But, GM back then listed all the RPO codes in the glove box sticker and we can decode that sticker to see if an auxiliary transmission cooler was added, it had the heavy duty tow package and what rear axle ratio the truck has. That was a great GM feature of the older trucks. They stopped putting it in on the newer trucks.

This is what the sticker would look like. This is off my 2003, 2500 Suburban.


If you can take a pic and post, we can help you look through those codes to find the items. OR we can tell/show you how to decode it yourself. It's up to you. Just trying to help as we can. You for sure have to have the auxiliary transmission cooler towing a camper or your transmission will not be happy.

Someone is giving you the camper, Wow, that is great!!! If it is in good shape, you are getting a real gem. You may even like taking up camping!

The weights of towing your horse trailer, do you have an estimate on how much the loaded trailer with 2 horses in it weighed? and the width and height from ground to roof? We can try and compare that to the T276SR and what difference you may expect.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:00 PM   #5
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I found the sticker in the glove box:


Thanks, I didn't know that was in there.
The truck receiver hitch (with WD) is rated for 1000# tongue weight 10,000# trailer weight.
I'm not sure if it has the auxiliary transmission cooler. I'll try to find that out.
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Old 05-12-2020, 04:59 PM   #6
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Based on your RPO sticker you have the 4L80E transmission (MT1) 3.73 gear (GT4) with limited slip (G80). The KNP is the auxiliary cooler and the Z82 is the trailering package. If you are going to keep things light the 1000# tougue weight on the hitch might be ok. We have a T264SR which is almost identical in weight and size and it is about 1200# loaded. You truck should pull it just fine, our truck has a similar combo as yours, 8.1L 4L85E trans with 3.73 gear.
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Old 05-12-2020, 05:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BenB View Post
Based on your RPO sticker you have the 4L80E transmission (MT1) 3.73 gear (GT4) with limited slip (G80). The KNP is the auxiliary cooler and the Z82 is the trailering package. If you are going to keep things light the 1000# tougue weight on the hitch might be ok. We have a T264SR which is almost identical in weight and size and it is about 1200# loaded. You truck should pull it just fine, our truck has a similar combo as yours, 8.1L 4L85E trans with 3.73 gear.
Im scared to ask, what MPG do you get?
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Old 05-13-2020, 07:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mssunline View Post
Im scared to ask, what MPG do you get?
On our trips around Ohio where just about everything is flat it averages about 8mpg towing at 60mph on the highway. While I've never actually had it on the scale I would estimate our loaded weight is around 8000#. It's all about wind resistance, last summer I towed a full size pickup on a flatbed trailer total weight 7000# back from NY and got over 11mpg. My truck empty on the highway best mileage is 14mpg. We have also towed a T2475 to NY, nonslide camper estimated weight 5200# and that got about 9.5mpg. It's a little shorter than our slide camper but as you can see the wind resistance of and 8ft wide brick vs. The heavier pickup on a flatbed it did worse.
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Old 05-20-2020, 11:36 PM   #9
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It came!
I was super worried we wouldn't be able to get it in my gate! If we ever have the house built I'm totally going to put in a gate in the fence so we can get it in and out super easy.
I need to get a sleeper sofa for it and probably some kind of kitchen table since there is no nook. I thought it would be easy to find like a futon but I guess they aren't the same price as they were in the 90s which is the last time I bought a futon! My dog seems comfortable in it which i good. I think she is ready to move out of the house and just leave all the other stupid humans and animals in it behind. I do have a question about generators though. I guess I didn't think I would run into dry camping that much but I guess I'm wrong there. If I'm dry camping I 100% want to be able to run the ac. We live in the desert and it can get super hot here. I'm not trying to run the AC and a hair dryer and watch TV with all the lights on while running a tredmil but I need to know I can run the AC without issue and I have zero experience with generators. What size generator do I need? How long would I expect it to run? How much gas do they consume? Do I need just a regular generator or an inverter? I'm excited about it all but I'm really trying to also wait to find great deals on stuff I'll need since cost is still a big factor.



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Old 05-21-2020, 10:42 AM   #10
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John and Ben covered it pretty well, but I'll add real world on the 276SR.

I pull an '07 276SR with a Dodge 2500 4x4 short bed with the Cummins Diesel. Can't give you a mileage comparison since I'm running a Diesel, but it gets 20 - 22 mpg around town and 12-14 mpg towing the trailer on the relatively flat east coast. The 3/4 ton handles the 276 with relative ease with an Equil-I-Zer weight distribution hitch. I had a 1500 4x4 Off Road model with a 318 V8 when we first bought the trailer. We knew we were going to upgrade the truck, so we bought the trailer we wanted. It was close on capacity, and we kept things super light, but it struggled. I really have to remind myself its back there with the 2500.

Good luck, it's a really nice layout.
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:02 PM   #11
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Quote trimmed for brevity...
Quote:
Originally Posted by mssunline View Post
I never looked into it and the sticker on the door is all worn off.
Next time you are near a Chevy Truck or GMC Truck stealership with a half hour or so to kill you might want to stop in and show them the worn off sticker. Depending on the stealership either the service manager or the parts guy can take the VIN from the tag under the windshield, look it up in the database and give you a printout of what was on the sticker. That info might be useful in the future, so stick that printout in the glovebox with your registration and insurance paperwork. A few years ago a friend was towing a trailer and was in an accident... Yes, it was the other guys fault (he was on his cellphone) but one of the first things the insurance company investigator did was check the weight ratings from the truck door sticker to see if my friend was overloaded (he wasn't). Yes, you can derive the same info from the option codes on the glovebox sticker, but having the actual axle ratings (weight numbers) staring the investigator in the face is much better. Another reason to get the door sticker printout is that one of the things buried in the info is the paint color codes... if you ever have body work done on your truck the painter will need those to match the colors.

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Old 05-21-2020, 05:55 PM   #12
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Wow!! Looking at your pics, that is a 276SR in name only!!! The interior has been completely gutted!!! The front room had a half wall separating it from the main trailer and had a two piece sliding door. There were closets on either side of the bed and a walk way on either side of a queen bed. There was a dinette (or four chairs and a table) and a sleeper sofa (or a tilt bed) in the slide. Can't see the rear, but facing the back, there should be a bath on the right and two bunks on the left. The door side wall should be bunks, a closet, the frig, a three burner stove, the sink and a cabinet.

Standing at door looking forward:

Attachment 7127

Looking into bathroom:

Attachment 7128

Standing at door looking to rear:

Attachment 7129
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:20 PM   #13
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Wow!! Looking at your pics, that is a 276SR in name only!!!
Yes, It was converted for wheelchair accessibility.
The bed was turned for easier access and it has a full size queen sleep number bed. The cabinets were lowered and rearranged and the bunks were removed to make the bathroom much larger. The couch and dinette were removed to accommodate dog crates. I found what looks like a perfect sleeper sofa on craigslist today and I'm looking at getting a small table and chairs. But it's lighter than the average bear since it has a lot less walls!
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Old 05-21-2020, 06:45 PM   #14
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Yes, It was converted for wheelchair accessibility.

The bed was turned for easier access and it has a full size queen sleep number bed. The cabinets were lowered and rearranged and the bunks were removed to make the bathroom much larger. The couch and dinette were removed to accommodate dog crates. I found what looks like a perfect sleeper sofa on craigslist today and I'm looking at getting a small table and chairs. But it's lighter than the average bear since it has a lot less walls!
JohnB may have more to say, but with all the mods that were made. I'd get it weighed and get a hitch weight on it to make sure the hitch weight is within the proper range. Too light or too heavy can cause big time sway issues that no hitch is going to fix.
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