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Need help with flattest route in Pennsylvania


Tumbleweed Chaser

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Hello,


May God bless you, if you have the knowledge, time and kindness to help me out with this planning...



ROUTES I NEED HELP WITH


I want to go from ...


A: (Jugtown Mountain Campsites, 1074 New Jersey 173, Asbury, NJ 08802) to

B: (Florys Cottages & Camping, P.O. Box 308, 99 N. Ronks Road, Ronks, PA 17572) to

C: (Indianapolis, IN.)



MY SITUATION

I cannot handle prolonged steep inclines or declines and I'm not sure how to quantify or explain what I can do or can't do with certainty, but I'd say anything that is several miles of 5% or greater up or down is too much. Maybe even less of a grade is too much if stretch out for too long (2 miles or more) would be a problem too. It's hard to say. But I'd rather tackle a mild incline than a mild decline. In case you are wondering, we have a Chevy Express van, 3500, gasoline v8, 6.0. Towing probably between 8,000 and 9,000 lbs travel trailer. We have towed it for 2.5 years full time for thousands of miles, but we painstakingly (after our little episode) try to find and take the flattest routes we can figure out. As long as we stay fairly horizontal, we do fine. But when we hit inclines, even what I would call mild to approaching steep Interstate inclines, we can bog down to 25 miles per hour (or less) and if in hot weather we have to run the heater full blast to keep the engine from overheating. So, this hopefully gives you an idea of our capabilities or lack thereof.



WHAT I THINK I KNOW, SO FAR...

I'm thinking that as soon as I get into Ohio I'm safe and can go any way I want from there to Indy, it's the Pennsylvania routes that have me worried. So I need help planning these routes by someone who knows the roads for certain, at least until I'm out of Pennsylvania, and who appreciates and fully comprehends my vehicle's limitations.



I have been consulting a computer application called Mountain Directory that shows many notes about mountainous roads all over the United States and it shows at least three potential trouble spots along I76 in PA, so I feel like I'll need to head up to I80 from location B, because I'm not seeing many warnings for I80 in the Mountain Directory other than east of the junction with I380 which I could perhaps avoid by connecting with I80 to the west of I380.


Of course, if you know of a flat route from A to B, then I can reverse that route to get back to A and then take a new route from A to C. But if, and only IF, you know a route that I could take from B to C that would not involve any back tracking (which B to A might constitute) then I would prefer to not backtrack. But ultimately I just want to get to Indianpolis in with my famil and I and are home and vehicle in once functional piece. ;-)


I GREATLY appreciate any sound, take-it-to-the-bank kind of advice you can give me.


Thank you!

James

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I-78 and US-222 should meet your criteria for the leg of your trip between Asbury, NJ and Ronks, PA. From there to Indianapolis, you will have no choice but to go over the mountains. The PA turnpike and I-70, in my opinion will have the fewest steeper grades. There are still grades and even some tunnels. The more Southern route, I-70, I-68, I-79, I-70; in my experience has more steep grades. I doubt that any of the other routes like US-30 would be any better.

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Would be longer route but get to Harrisburg then 22/323 to 11&15 to I 80 then 80 has one downgrade not all that bad then climb Snow Shoe about 6 mile pull easy down the other side have a safe trip. Could do T/P couple hills just take it easy . Do not try 30 to Ohio.

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Have you considered disc brakes for the trailer......................and getting your trailer weighed so you know what you are dealing with................other than that good luck in finding flat routes.

 

The east is a constant up and down hills, hard to avoid. Only the midwest is relatively flat and that gets really boring fast,

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I previously saw a post and bookmarked a site www.flattestroute.com. Put in your to and from locations and it will give the flattest route to you. Good luck.

 

Thank you for the great link and tip. I found this too but it maps a route down I76, but according to the Mountain Directory, I76 has three potential trouble spots, but I80 does not, therefore I don't feel that I can take much stock in that web site. But thanks all the same!

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I-78 and US-222 should meet your criteria for the leg of your trip between Asbury, NJ and Ronks, PA. From there to Indianapolis, you will have no choice but to go over the mountains. The PA turnpike and I-70, in my opinion will have the fewest steeper grades. There are still grades and even some tunnels. The more Southern route, I-70, I-68, I-79, I-70; in my experience has more steep grades. I doubt that any of the other routes like US-30 would be any better.

 

 

Would be longer route but get to Harrisburg then 22/323 to 11&15 to I 80 then 80 has one downgrade not all that bad then climb Snow Shoe about 6 mile pull easy down the other side have a safe trip. Could do T/P couple hills just take it easy . Do not try 30 to Ohio.

 

 

Thank for the advice. Much appreciated!

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Have you considered disc brakes for the trailer......................and getting your trailer weighed so you know what you are dealing with................other than that good luck in finding flat routes.

 

The east is a constant up and down hills, hard to avoid. Only the midwest is relatively flat and that gets really boring fast,

 

No... I did not realize I could get disc brakes for the trailer. Thank you for the advice.

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I doubt that any of the other routes like US-30 would be any better.

 

Rt 30 would be worse, IMO. 2-lane and PLENTY of steep ups and downs, especially west of Breezewood. The Allegheny Mountains are mountains, just not as big as the Rockies.

 

It has been a few decades since I drove the PA Turnpike, but I do remember one particular long, curvy stretch into a tunnel. I think it was into the first westbound tunnel.

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I just rode the Pa turnpike in August and do not think the climbs and down hills were that bad but I did just come from New Mexico & Colorado. They have actually been doing quite well on improving the turnpike but now my concern would be the road construction on it. Good luck on whatever route you choose.

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Rt 30 would be worse, IMO. 2-lane and PLENTY of steep ups and downs, especially west of Breezewood. The Allegheny Mountains are mountains, just not as big as the Rockies.

 

It has been a few decades since I drove the PA Turnpike, but I do remember one particular long, curvy stretch into a tunnel. I think it was into the first westbound tunnel.

 

 

One thing for sure, you don't want to use US 30 between Breezewood and Gettysburg. A real PITA and the mountains aren't the only issue.

Thank you so much for the warning!

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Would be longer route but get to Harrisburg then 22/323 to 11&15 to I 80 then 80 has one downgrade not all that bad then climb Snow Shoe about 6 mile pull easy down the other side have a safe trip. Could do T/P couple hills just take it easy . Do not try 30 to Ohio.

 

This seems like a brilliant path, OTT.

 

Have you taken this route, is that how you know it is fairly flat?

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Seriously:

 

You should get your vehicle(fully loaded) and the trailer(fully loaded) weighed at a truck stop. Individual tire weighings are better but the truck stop weighing is better than nothing. Then check to make sure your tire pressures are correct based on the weights, this will just be ball parking at this point.

 

Determine from the mfg? whoever? what your actual towing capacity is, your GCWR, your GVWR etc. and make sure you are not exceeding any of these numbers. Not knowing this info is a serious accident waiting to happen, you have had one close call, try not to have another especially when it is something you can control.

 

Since you are a young full-timer have you heard of the Xscapers group. It is a spin off of Escapees and is primarily for full-timers with children. You might be very interested in what the do and say.

 

Good luck.

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Wow! You picked a doozy of a western 'hill' to have brake problems. Really enjoyed reading your blog stories. You're a great writer. However, as stated earlier, get the van and trailer weighed because the trailer looks pretty big behind than van!! Good luck in your future travels!!

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Seriously:

 

You should get your vehicle(fully loaded) and the trailer(fully loaded) weighed at a truck stop. Individual tire weighings are better but the truck stop weighing is better than nothing. Then check to make sure your tire pressures are correct based on the weights, this will just be ball parking at this point.

 

Determine from the mfg? whoever? what your actual towing capacity is, your GCWR, your GVWR etc. and make sure you are not exceeding any of these numbers. Not knowing this info is a serious accident waiting to happen, you have had one close call, try not to have another especially when it is something you can control.

 

Since you are a young full-timer have you heard of the Xscapers group. It is a spin off of Escapees and is primarily for full-timers with children. You might be very interested in what the do and say.

 

Good luck.

 

 

Yes, good advice. I know I need to be more aware of the weight and towing capability from a text book perspective, etc. And I did a lot of research before we set out on our maiden voyage but I could not, and I mean COULD NOT, get the same answer from any two people, all the way from people like yourself, to RV dealers and their mechanics to managers of Chevy service departments who looked up my exact van and proceeded to give me false information. It did not matter who I spoke to, they ALL gave me a different opinion on what I could tow. Advice ranged from "You can't do it." to "Heck yeah! You can pull that camper anywhere you wanna go!". The contradictory advice from professionals nearly drove me out of my mind.

Finally, I decided I was close enough to having the power I needed that I would JUST DO IT, and discover our capabilities firsthand. So now I have a pretty good idea of what we can do but until I can afford something better, I hunt for the easy routes.

 

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Wow! You picked a doozy of a western 'hill' to have brake problems. Really enjoyed reading your blog stories. You're a great writer. However, as stated earlier, get the van and trailer weighed because the trailer looks pretty big behind than van!! Good luck in your future travels!!

 

Ha ha... Yes indeed we did! I will never forget the experience. A non-stop 15 mile 6% grade. It's one of the longest steep grades in the country, I'm told. One or more people die on it every year. I thank God we made it out alive to tell the story. Thank you so much for the compliment on my blog and writing. I am certainly glad to hear you enjoyed it.

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Hmmm, I'm no expert but something doesn't seem right. 25mph up hill is slooooow. Your power band 'should' be ok. Coming down I suspect a technique issue.

 

Have you looked at the Banks products and an engine brake. Also take a very serious look at your tow vehicle and trailer weights. Now. It's not just you who should be worried. It's other road users as well.

 

You can't simply put your head in the sand and pray. Sooner or later you are going to plan a flat route only to find a detour that is forced upon you. Then what?

 

Spending money now isn't funny. But spending time in hospital isn't a fun time either.

 

Good luck.

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Have you ever heard of the RV Consumer Group, www.rv.org. They rate rvs and will give you pretty good info on what you own or looking into. Regarding the TV you just need to do a lot of research online or find a group like Escapees who have a lot of knowledgeable people. RV dealers and car/truck dealers will tell you anything to get a sale.Using the internet is a great resource for information or else dealing with the truck company directly(email Ford, Dodge etc.). Lurking on a forum is one way to gain a lot of info.

 

Just throwing in the towel and hoping is high risk. As Escapees, most of us preach and practice safety first. We have all done stupid things and lived to tell about it.

 

Your problems seem to be multiple. A 3500 should not be giving you such a poor response, especially if you have a 4.10 or even a 3.73 rear and configured for towing. I would guess you are well overweight. You need to consider your family if you want to continue this life style safely.

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You've already had a good scare and still think it is ok to take your children on trips with WAY TO MUCH trailer for that van? It seems to be clear that the van transmission isn't set up for towing, that you didn't have good brakes on the trailer, and that you don't know how to slow way down, down shift, and slowly come down the mountain. The trailer brakes should be helping to slow the trailer, not just the van brakes. Somewhere on the van is a sticker (usually somewhere on the driver's door jam, that will give you the Gross Combined Weight rating. You also need the tongue weight of the trailer and what weight the hitch is designed to handle. This sounds harsh, but when you talk about having children with you, it is no longer just what dumb thing you might do. You have a responsibility to make sure your children are safe and that starts with getting your weights right BEFORE you take another trip, not trying to figure out what is the 'flattest' route!

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