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Old 06-18-2008, 10:02 PM   #1
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1964 26' Overlander
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Thumbs up Vintage Tow Vehicle - Vintage Argosy Adventure to Bozeman

This adventure began several years ago in the quest for either a set of new OEM steel wheels or a set of straight and true OEM steel wheels for my ’75 Eldorado. Finally, a shop was located in Bloomington, IL where I was able to have my 5 best used OEM wheels trued, straightened and restored – estimate of $80.00 per wheel. Eight months later, the wheels were finished with a brand new powder coat finish. In visiting with the shop owner when I picked up my wheels, I learned that the process was even more labor intensive than he had anticipated – but he stuck with his original estimate as I had patiently waited the eight months for completion (he showed me the jobber invoice of $40/wheel for media-blasting and powder coating).

The car was still in hibernation at this point, so it was time to bring it out of hibernation on June 10. With a freshly charged battery, plenty of fuel, and all fluids up to full; the car still refused to start – the starter tried heroically to start the car but it just wouldn’t catch. Investigation revealed a good spark, but weak fuel stream. I jumped to the conclusion that the new fuel pump installed just before it went into storage was defective so had it towed to my mechanic. The problem turned out to be fuel lines perforated with pinholes that resulted in more air being drawn than fuel. The battery was also quite weak, but at five years of age I couldn’t fault the 60-month battery. June 11th, I had the car back in my possession running like a champ.

The restored wheels and new cooper tires were installed on Thursday, June 12. It was such a pleasure to be able to drive the car again without wondering whether the tires would rub the fender edges in a sharp turn or when traversing rough pavement. It was obvious that the restored wheels were a tremendous improvement over anything else tried – and they each balanced with minimal weight addition, and the car is running virtually tire/wheel vibration free.

Friday, June 13th was spent prepping the car and trailer for the trip to first the Midwest Forums Rally at Moraine View State Park in LeRoy, IL; and then on to the WBCCI International Rally in Bozeman, MT.

Departure was Saturday, June 14th at 6:00 a.m. At that point, I was confident that all bases had been covered and minimal trouble could be expected. First Fuel Fill was at Vandalia, IL (about 110 miles) as the gauge read ½ tank. A little more than 12 gallons and a little more than $48.00 later, we were on our way. All went well and I was anxiously anticipating arriving at the Midwest Forums Moraine View Rally as I passed Arcola, IL --- then – Murphy intervened – the NO-CHARGE/GENERATOR light came on and stayed on. Exited at Tuscola and stopped at the FuelMart truck stop and called Good Sam ERS. Two hours later, the tow truck arrived – the motor club hadn’t informed the tow service that I had a car and trailer – they were expecting only a late model Eldorado – the truck was just barely able to handle the Eldorado and had no provision for towing the trailer. The driver took the truck back to headquarters and advised ERS to send a different service. About 90 minutes later a different tow truck arrived – same driver – same company. A short time later the Eldorado was loaded on the truck and taken to Arcola Auto Tech for repairs. Then the driver picked up the company’s roadside service vehicle and drove back to tow my trailer to Arcola Camper Stop where my Minuet was carefully setup for the duration of my car’s repairs. By the time the Cadillac was situated, it was too late to find any Coles county garages open so it would be Monday, June 16th before the car could begin repairs.

Shortly after 1:00 p.m. on Monday, June 16th, I received word that both the alternator and generator were bad and replacements were to be in-hand shortly. The bad news arrived at 4:00 p.m. that the parts sent were not correct for my vehicle and none were available locally. The correct parts were overnighted from St. Louis.

The good news arrived at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 17th – the parts had arrived and the car was ready to go. Took the car back to the campground and hooked up the Minuet and was on the road by 1:30 p.m. All went well (other than the 7 +/- MPG) for the balance of the day. Arrived at Hannibal, MO for first night on the road. When checking the car after parking the Minuet, discovered that the right front fender extension had disintegrated and fallen off somewhere in Western Illinois.

Wednesday, June 18th began about 5:00 a.m. – the plan was to depart by 6:00 a.m. in hopes of making it as far West into South Dakota as possible. Everything was basically uneventful through Sioux Falls, SD. The first news was when filling with fuel, I realized that the right rear fender extension had crumbled and fallen off of the car somewhere in Western Iowa. Shortly after resuming travel on I-29 but before the I-90 interchange, I looked down and the speedometer was dead – not even the least evidence of movement. As long as I have owned the car, I have a good sense (based on sound and vibrations) of the car’s speed – particularly at 35 MPH, 45 MPH, 55 MPH, and 60 MPH – thus far, I have made the adjustment well, but worry what I will do if the fuel gauge should stop working – I have been tracking fuel by gauge and odometer (half tank or 100 miles = time to start looking for a station). Arrived at Mitchell, SD at about 6:00 p.m. Checked in at my favorite KOA in Mitchell and have settled in for a comfortable, quiet night.

Observations to this Point:
  • Towing with the vintage tow vehicle is fun, but is more expensive than my ’99 GMC K2500 Suburban.
    • The Suburban would average 11 to 12 MPG towing my Minuet under the same conditions.
    • The Suburban can travel nearly all day (450 miles +/-) on one 45 gallon tank of fuel while the Cadillac requires a fuel stop every 100 to 150 miles due to its 7 +/- MPG and modest 25 gallon fuel tank.
  • While the Suburban is 10 years old (purchased new 04/22/98) and has 199,800 miles, it has never had to be towed in during a vacation – and only once locally when the fuel pump went bad at 168,000 miles. At its advanced mileage, I would not be shocked to have to have it towed in during a vacation; but the plus would be that parts would be much more readily available.
  • My Cadillac seems to be determined to leave at least one part in each state this trip – Alternator & Regulator in Illinois – Right Front fender extension in Illinois – Right Rear fender extension in Iowa – Left Front fender extension in South Dakota – Speedometer Cable (or transducer) in South Dakota. So far, I don’t know of any parts left in Missouri – but only time will tell.
  • The 5,000 lb. Reese Straight Line Hitch is doing its job. By dropping one more link than would normally be the case, enough additional weight is shifted forward to the front wheels that traction starting off in loose gravel or on damp surfaces has not been a problem. Gusty crosswinds have not been a problem nor have any of the over-the-road trucks that I have encountered. The cams have kept the trailer secure behind the Eldorado – and the car’s soft suspension has resulted in almost no shifting of what is packed in the Minuet even though I am running its Marathons at maximum recommended inflation.
  • The added security of having the emergency remote control for the Hayes-Lemerz Energize Plus brake controller at my fingertips has been a wonderful form of security even though I have yet to feel the need to utilize the remote during this trip – I do use it each morning to test brake application.
  • The reactions created by this combination have been something to see. Someone asks about the car or trailer at nearly every fuel stop.
    • Would I consider another similar adventure in the future? The short answer is yes. I would, however, qualify the response with it would take a significant amount of convincing before I would undertake a journey the magnitude of the one that I am now approaching the mid-point of the out-bound trip. Without question, I will likely utilize the Vintage tow vehicle next year when the International is only about 500 miles from my home – in fact, I am actively considering towing the ’64 Overlander rather than the Minuet.
    • Would I recommend either the ’66-’78 Oldsmobile Tornado or ’68-’78 Cadillac Eldorado as a tow vehicle for a Vintage Airstream? It is my opinion that there are large American cars that are better suited to the purpose than these huge front-wheel-drive platforms. Granted, there are some heavy duty parts available for the transaxle due to the GMC Motorhome program, but making these modifications is extremely expensive and still doesn’t result in an ideal tow vehicle (IMHO). Had I been searching specifically for a vintage tow vehicle when I purchased my Eldorado, I would have held out for a 1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible for its more conventional rear wheel drive platform.
    • One of my greatest pleasures of this combo has been the ability to put the top down and enjoy the full experience of travel. As a long-time convertible owner, I have long since become immune to the wind noise when the top is up as well as the cacophony of squeaks and rattles that are part of most old convertibles – the payback is the open air, fresh sunshine and the wonderful vistas experienced in travel.
Below, is the first trial -- the proposed destination was the WBCCI International in Springfield, MO. The Boyd Coddington custom wheels were just too wide that the tires scraped the wheel openings during turns as well as when encountering even modest undulations in the road (they worked fine until the trailer was added to the equation).

The first towing expedition that highlighted the wheel vibrations caused by the non-true wheels was the trip from Cedar Falls, IA to Aledo, IL in 2003.

I don't yet have a photo of the combination as it exists today. I should be able to post those photos once I arrive at the International Rally in Bozeman.


Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 06-18-2008, 10:28 PM   #2
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Thumbs up Looking good Kevin!

Can't wait to finally see the combo up close & personal in Bozeman!

Travel safe ~


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Old 06-19-2008, 01:32 AM   #3
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Very imformative post, Kevin! You always have such insightful commentary.

I think you've got all the gremlins worked out of your tow vehicle. Smooth sailing from here on!
Dallas Peak, MD 'That 70's Guy!'
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Old 06-19-2008, 06:35 AM   #4
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Yes, good reading with lots of good info. thnxs Kevin
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
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Old 06-19-2008, 08:24 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
My Cadillac seems to be determined to leave at least one part in each state this trip – Alternator & Regulator in Illinois – Right Front fender extension in Illinois – Right Rear fender extension in Iowa – Left Front fender extension in South Dakota – Speedometer Cable (or transducer) in South Dakota. So far, I don’t know of any parts left in Missouri – but only time will tell.
But, it just looks so darn cool!

Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
One of my greatest pleasures of this combo has been the ability to put the top down and enjoy the full experience of travel. As a long-time convertible owner, I have long since become immune to the wind noise when the top is up as well as the cacophony of squeaks and rattles that are part of most old convertibles – the payback is the open air, fresh sunshine and the wonderful vistas experienced in travel.

Amen, brother! I've had convertibles since my teenage years, and I couldn't live without one. Some people are bothered by the wind noise and the extra "issues" that convertibles have. I'm not one of those people. Looks like you aren't either.

Thanks for sharing, lots of great information and great stories here.

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Old 06-19-2008, 10:57 AM   #6
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Thanks for the story and sorry about your troubles. But towing with a vintage full size car is a blast. Your 1975 Cad and my 1977 Lincoln. You are so correct, the mileage stinks, but the comfort makes up for it and the looks you get on the road.

Bill Kerfoot, WBCCI/VAC/CAC/El Camino Real Unit #5223
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Old 06-19-2008, 11:47 AM   #7
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Kevin, wishing you the very best of luck getting the rest of the way to Bozeman without leaving any more parts behind! We will be leaving Saturday, towing our '60 with our '65 Burb (our other tow vehicle is a '73 F-250), so we well understand the adventure that goes along with towing with a vintage vehicle, although (knock on wood), we haven't experienced anything close to what you have! Looking forward to meeting you at the rally~
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Old 06-25-2008, 07:38 PM   #8
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Talking Arrived in Bozema at 3:50 p.m.

The adventure continues, but with no tremendous mechanical issues --- more additional quirks than anything else. A mini Airstream City is developing here at Bozeman KOA.

The adventure continues, but thus far nothing terribly unexpected. There is nothing like the strange feeling of “Why didn’t I think of that earlier?”. Prior to departure on Thursday, June 19th it finally dawned on me that my EarthMate GPS would report direction of travel, distance to destination, speed along with other information. Programmed in my departure point and destination point and always had a mileage report as well as a speed report – a little additional peace of mind even though each time I check my feel for the speed of travel was no more than 2 MPH off of what was being reported. The first real grades of the trip were encountered as we entered the Black Hills. These grades didn’t prove a particular problem for this combination, but it was obvious that grades in the Rocky Mountains could prove a bit more interesting. I do believe that many other travelers were shocked that my ancient car was keeping up with the other RVs on the road. Just outside of Spearfish, South Dakota, the car’s power steering pump decided to develop a case of altitude sickness – it began spewing power steering fluid out of its vent hole. Allowed the motor to cool until it was possible to top off the reservoir with about 2 oz of power steering fluid. All was well throughout the balance of the day with the power steering other than the occasional squall indicating air in the lines. The balance of the drive to Thermopolis, Wyoming was uneventful – at least in mechanical terms. I am sure that some of the drivers on US 16 were thrilled when we came to passing zones, slow traffic lanes, and pull-outs as the Eldorado’s aversion to speed on grades was very apparent. I never felt that the grade was too much for the car, but its speed kept falling – on the steepest grades we were down to as little as 20 MPH in first gear – the good news was that the car felt like it could pull all day at that rate – if you could just keep its gas tank filled!

HOORAY --- I FINALLY REJOINED THE WISCONSIN UNIT YELLOWSTONE TRAIL CARAVAN!! It was almost 8:00 p.m. (just as the GPS had predicted) when I pulled into the Eagle Rest RV park in Thermopolis, Wyoming. It was certainly good to see familiar faces after all of the recent adventures. This was a one-night stop so it would be off to Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone National Park in the AM.

As has been typical for every day, my first stop was for fuel. A little over 15 gallons and we were ready to continue on to Cody, Wyoming where our Caravan was making a stop for provisions as we would be at Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone National Park for several days. Friday, June 20th turned out to be a glorious day for our drive into Yellowstone. The temperatures were in the 70s with wonderfully low humidity and a wonderful cool breeze off of the mountain slopes. The sun was very strong, and it didn’t take too long to feel its effects. The Cadillac had one of its better days – other than a periodic squall from the power steering pump (especially when exiting fuel stations) all was quiet on the tow car front. A new quirk did, however, develop – whenever my 12-volt inverter for the GPS system went into full-power mode it would cause the Eldorado’s horn to blow briefly – I don’t think that I even want to venture to speculate what may be causing this malady. Fortunately, from Cody, Wyoming into Yellowstone, the grades were kinder to the Eldorado, and our speed averaged no less than 30 MPH on most of the grades. I don’t know when I have had so much fun towing through a National Park, it was a very different experience towing with the car as it felt more like the family vacations that I remembered. It took a little more than 12 gallons of fuel to make the trip from Cody, Wyoming into the Fishing Bridge RV Park in Yellowstone National Park. We created quite a stir at the park office as four of our Caravanners arrived within less than 10 minutes so we were all at the office at the same time. The park service staff as well as other patrons were quite curious about our rigs. We had the two ends of the spectrum – my painted Argosy Minuet to Ed Emerricks mirror polished ’68 Airstream Sovereign.

Fishing Bridge RV Park is a truly amazing place to stay. The sites are quite level with full connections – 30 AMP, 20 AMP, and I believe a few with 50 AMP electric service as well as water and sewer – at a price that is competitive, if not, somewhat less than similar privately operated RV parks in the area. I am very fortunate to have a site along the park’s edge so the view out my front window is of a pine and spruce forest. My spot was the result of one of those registration snafus – the agent who took my reservation thought that I had miss-keyed my coach description and had reserved my spot as follows: 1978 Eldorado 35 foot Motorhome with Morris Mini toad – all of the big rig spots are in this section so all of my neighbors are either in huge motorhomes or large 5th wheels. I was surprised to learn that there are minimal lights in the campground at night. It was so much fun to be able to look out of the trailer and see the night sky. During the day when I am at the coach, the chipmunks keep me entertained – their home is under the spruce next to my trailer. I chattered at one of them, and must have said something interesting – then scary as it listened for about three minutes and then suddenly darted back under the spruce.

This evening, Saturday, June 21st, I am planning to put the top down on the Eldorado and go on a photographic wildlife safari. Ten years ago, when I was last in Yellowstone, I took a guided photographic safari with Grey Line Tours. It was one of the most enjoyable of all the Grey Line Tours that I have taken, but it was discontinued so I am going to try to find some of the same places and see what wildlife is about. It will be a bit more fun this time as I have a much better SLR camera with auto zoom and a telephoto lens that will help me to get some of those more difficult shots.

Sunday, June 22nd, as they say, the best laid plans . . . , the photographic safari planned for yesterday evening didn’t work out. Sunday was a day of exploration on a casual basis. Today, I joined fellow unit members for a Big Yellow Bus Tour of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon. The Big Yellow Bus Tours feature 1935 through 1938 White open-roof tour buses that can carry between 9 and 12 passengers maximum – these buses are of the same variety used for the Big Red Bus Tours in Glacier National Park – these buses have been refurbished with modern Ford drive-trains, but retain the original charm of the 1930s body and accouterments. The guide was very personable and quite knowledgeable which helped to make the tour even better – the scenery was nothing short of fantastic – and all of the water falls were at their most glorious due to the heavy snow pack from last winter combined with a spring with generous rains. My Cadillac has been enjoying a days rest as I have been the guest of good friends from my unit. It is truly amazing how much the vegetation has recovered from the 1988 forest fires – I last toured the park in 1998 and there is a tremendous improvement over what I saw at that time. Wildlife has also been plentiful for our viewing today – trumpeter swans, Canada geese, wood ducks, ravens, bison, a grizzly bear and her two yearling cubs, elk, and a variety of song birds. The grizzly bear and her two yearling cubs have been frequenting the area around Fishing Bridge RV Park throughout our visit. The only down-side to our Yellowstone adventure has been a water problem in the RV park – a camper backed over a water supply hydrant that resulted in underground damage to the main – we have had no more than 15-minutes of water to refill our water tanks each day for the past two days. The necessary repairs are expected to be completed sometime tomorrow.

Monday, June 23rd, was another absolutely gorgeous day in Yellowstone National Park. The Eldorado finally recovered from its air bubbles in the power steering pump/lines and the power steering is functioning as expected. Today, I spent the day enjoying the Fishing Bridge RV Park and the beauty of my parking space. We had our usual 4:00 p.m. social and the new visitor center at Yellowstone Canyon was the topic of discussion – all agreed that it was a must see as its two movies were of exceptional quality and quite informative – and the exhibits were much more detailed than at some of the other visitors centers. Joined some friends from the WBCCI Wisconsin unit for dinner at the Yellowstone Lake Lodge – wonderful atmosphere beside the lake with a cafeteria serving style that include ample portions at a reasonable price given the location – two favorites with our group were the roast turkey dinner and the pot roast dinner – close seconds were the pasta marinara and the vegetarian stir fry. Upon leaving the dining room, we observed a park service rescue unit as well as two park service patrol cars – a grizzly bear and two yearling cubs were foraging in the meadow that separated the Lake Lodge from the lake. We were caught without a camera so weren’t able to capture any photos.

Tuesday, June 24th, was our last full day in Yellowstone. This was to be our wildlife photo safari day. We happened upon a group of four young, female Elk closely followed by an elder-statesman Elk grazing in another meadow. Ravens and crows were flying in abundance today. The bison were around nearly every corner – we were even able to observe a herd of at least 36 bison grazing no more than 100 yards from the highway – there were many young including one that appeared to be not too far from newborn. Two female moose were spotted resting in one of the more remote meadows. The grizzly bear with two cubs was again spotted not too far from Fishing Bridge – this threesome was spotted somewhere near Fishing Bridge every day while we were in Yellowstone. Today, we enjoyed lunch at the Old Faithful Inn – they offer buffet as well as menu selections – anything ordered by our group was fantastic! We continued on around the loop to Canyon Village and then back to Fishing Bridge RV Park for our 4:00 p.m. social – following the reading of the day’s diary, we “Suburban-Pooled” to the Lake Lodge for dinner – again, the food and atmosphere were fantastic. Upon return to the RV Park, it was time to check the fluids (low on oil but all else good), and thus far, the Hayden 12,000 pound transmission cooler seems to be doing its job – the transmission fluid is still bright red (thoroughly flushed and changed last summer).

Wednesday, June 25th, travel to Bozeman KOA for Vintage Airstream Club Pre-Rally. Created quite a stir this morning at the Fishing Bridge gas station – I hadn’t hitched up yet, but had the McKesh Mirrors on the car and was filling the tank prior to departure – the usual comments were heard about how unusual it was to see an old car towing a trailer – but this stop was a little different – met a couple from Germany who were so thrilled to get to see an old-fashioned American car – they took a number of photos of the car including its interior (the top was down), and the motor while I was double-checking the fluids. Hitching up was uneventful, but the automatic trunk release/pull-down has decided that it is no longer automatic – must depress and hold the button until it completes the intended operation (we will be OK so long as it doesn’t stop functioning entirely). The 140 mile trip from Fishing Bridge to Bozeman was fantastic – perfect top-down weather and the traffic was not as bad as it was when I was last in Yellowstone following the International Rally in Boise, Idaho (1998). Encountered several wildlife traffic jams – in one, a large male bison was lumbering down the center lane of the highway – it was not one of my more favorite situations as I didn’t relish the idea of having a large bison that close with the top down – he decided to head into the woods about 30 yards ahead of my car. The grizzly bear with the two yearling cubs was again spotted between Fishing Bridge and Canyon Center. The bison herd was again out and about – with about half having crossed the highway before we arrived, and several smaller enclaves were observed elsewhere along the route. Two female moose were observed with their young not too far from Canyon Center. A large male Elk was observed grazing quietly in a meadow not far from a babbling brook. At each stop, the combination received its fair share of attention as well – people were amazed that I had traveled from Illinois with relatively few mechanical problems in a car that is 33 years old. The frequent pull-outs were used to allow more modern traffic to speed by – the Eldorado is much happier traveling at between 48 and 52 MPH in this region with its grades and curves. Second gear is required much of the time to keep the drivetrain happy under these conditions – fuel mileage appears to be around 8 MPG which would be my best tank yet – this was on Premium grade – the car is running noticeably smoother after today’s journey. I also increased the inflation pressure in the car’s tires from the 32 psi recommended by the tire dealer where I purchased the tires to the 36 psi maximum stamped on the sidewalls. Arrived at the Bozeman KOA just before 3:00 p.m. – there are already a number of VAC members here in the park even though the official pre-rally is not until tomorrow – it is nice to have the leisure time to get ready for the parade.

Observations to this Point:
  • A 1975 Cadillac Eldorado is old enough that many younger drivers don’t recognize it, and more than one gas station attendant has remarked that they had never seen one of these large Cadillacs.
    • When I stopped at the I-90/US 16 interchange another driver at the Shell station remarked “You will never make it to Yellowstone with that car – it was never meant to tow a trailer.” He was shocked when I showed him the paragraph in the owner’s manual that explained the 6,000 pound trailer tow rating.
    • Pulling grades does nothing good for fuel economy – thus far the worst mileage has been 4 MPG on one 90 mile tank. (prior to Cody, WY)
    • Premium fuel is making quite a difference in my MPG – it has increased my MPG by almost 3 MPG, and the motor is running silky-smooth with no sign of ping. Started using premium fuel rather than mid-grade when leaving Cody, Wyoming. (after Cody, WY)
    • Adding 4 psi to the tire inflation (raised to 36 psi) on the car also seemed to improve fuel economy and helped to eliminate a very slight stability issue without impacting ride quality in any way.
    • These heavy duty Cooper Tires seem to be wearing remarkably well, and they track better than the Good Year tires that I had always run on the car in the past. According to my dealer, these tires are produced primarily for use on extended limousines based on Lincoln or Cadillac chassis.
    • This is the third full season (about 20,000 miles) on the load range C Marathons on the Minuet (inflated to 50 psi maximum), and they are performing exactly as intended – I am examining them carefully each evening, and there isn’t any indication of trouble. They will be replaced prior to next season as a safety measure.
    • I am constantly impressed by the performance of my Reese hitch with Dual Cam Sway Control. Traveling with the top down is a bit concerting at first as you hear the cams aligning themselves any time that the coach is being brought back into alignment – I never noticed this noise with the top up, but it is evidence of the hitch doing its job.
  • Others reactions’ to the combination have covered the gamut between the two extremes.
    • One group, who does not understand the charm and/or challenge of traveling with a vintage tow vehicle and trailer view it as an exercise in futility and unnecessary expense.
    • The opposite extreme is the group who is intrigued by the idea of embarking on a cross-country trip with a vintage car and trailer combination.
    • The Cadillac’s unfortunate loss of its fender extensions hasn’t helped with the first extreme as the absence of these fender extensions does create something of an image of a car that is a refugee from the crusher.
  • I still have no regrets about embarking on this journey, but whether I would repeat a journey of this distance in the future is still a question mark.
    • The car is comfortable enough on the highway, but both my Suburban and 2007 New Beetle have more comfortable seats. That living room sofa comfort that Cadillac promoted at one time may be comfortable for in town travel—it is not all that great for long highway travel.
    • The air conditioner was converted to the new 134A freon replacement, and it has performed flawlessly – prior to conversion, I had the car’s original receiver/drier, condenser, VIR valve, and hoses replaced.
    • My ’99 GMC K2500 Suburban can easily beat the Cadillac from the standpoint of fuel economy as well as grade climbing performance – but each have confidence inspiring big block GM V8s – GMC = 454 cubic inches; Cadillac = 501 cubic inches. The Cadillac’s 2.70 final drive really hurts its towing speed on grades when compared to the GMC’s 4.10 differentials. Comparatively speaking, both the Cadillac and Suburban carry about the same weight on their frames – a bit more than 5,500 pounds.
The Photo Below is of how the Cadillac and Minuet appeared today, June 26, 2008 while traveling through Yellowstone National Park toward Bozeman, Montana.

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:16 PM   #9
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Your rig looks good, Kevin. About those fender ends...I remember fiberglass replacements for the plastic parts being available for about $100 per corner. The cruise transducer is reknowned for failing, and leaving you with no cruise control or speedometer. There are two cables, one to the transducer, the other to the speedometer head. Both are relatively inexpensive to replace the cable themselves with generic "cut to fit" cables.
My '73 Toronado got gas mileage that would make your 7mpg look like an economy car, it regularly got 4-5 mpg. Not towing anything but me...
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
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Old 06-25-2008, 09:25 PM   #10
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1963 26' Overlander
Austin , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 2,640
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
Your rig looks good, Kevin. About those fender ends...I remember fiberglass replacements for the plastic parts being available for about $100 per corner. The cruise transducer is reknowned for failing, and leaving you with no cruise control or speedometer. There are two cables, one to the transducer, the other to the speedometer head. Both are relatively inexpensive to replace the cable themselves with generic "cut to fit" cables.
My '73 Toronado got gas mileage that would make your 7mpg look like an economy car, it regularly got 4-5 mpg. Not towing anything but me...
Well sure, Terry, but just how quickly was it able to tow you from 0-60?

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Old 06-25-2008, 09:56 PM   #11
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1995 30' Limited
Ashland , Missouri
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 2,610
Your travelogue makes me feel I'm in the passenger seat, experiencing everything along the way! Your organization, explanations, and narration help me see what a great teacher you must be. Enjoy all the friends, sights, and sounds of the rally, especially the VAC events you'll be attending. And most of all, safe enjoyable travel back home when the rally draws to its end. ~G
1995 Airstream Classic Limited 30' ~ Gypsy
1978 Argosy Minuet, 6.0~Minnie/GPZWGN
Chev Silverado 2500HD Duramax/Allison, 4X4, Crew Cab
WBCCI #5013 AIR #2908
Go, Mizzou...Tigers on the prowl!
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Old 06-25-2008, 11:05 PM   #12
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Fort Worth , Texas
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My father used his 1976 Sedan De Ville as his tow vehicle with a 28' 1975 Silver Streak until 1988 (at about 190,000 miles). The trailer weighed a little under 7,000-lbs. The car had the factory tow package with 3.21 rear gears and limited slip. I figure the combination weighed around 12,200-lbs. He averaged 7-8 mpg for all towing, including the Rockies (nothing like watching that gas gauge drop at WOT climbing Raton, La Veta or Wolf Creek passes; seemed to take 20-minutes. He also flipped the air cleaner lid when he knew that altitude would cut HP).

25 gals? The De Villes were 27.5 gal.

The only changes he made were to replace the rear springs with MOOG "Cargo Coils" and some judicious work with the ignition timing. The carb was also an altitude-compensated model (you might look into this, see if one is available. Or, just go here: Howell Engine Developments Inc. - Universal V-8 Throttle Body Kit). An auxiliary trans cooler was installed (B&M Racing; stacked plate design; w/aux filter) and an adjustable trans governor.

I believe that I would look for a 1974 air cleaner and snorkel, as I believe it was better in design than the soft tube hose that replaced it.

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Were it mine, I'd also talk to the people at MSD Ignition (El Paso, TX) about adding an MSD-5 or -6 to help combustion.

And contact OREGON AERO for one of their seat cushions beloved of pilots. Or, ROHO, that the wheelchair and big truck drivers swear by (all of these are portable; and work).

Thanks for the detailed reporting, it brings back memories. I enjoy all your posts about this car.

But those K-Mart wheel covers gotta go!

Good luck
1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
2004 DODGE Cummins 305/555; 6-manual; 9k GVWR.
Hensley Arrow. 12-cpm solo, 19-cpm towing (fuel)
Sold: Silver Streak Model 3411
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Old 07-07-2008, 07:53 AM   #13
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1964 26' Overlander
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
Anna , Illinois
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Smile Vintage Tow Vehicle - Vintage Argosy Adventure to Bozeman

The adventure continues, and my confidence level in the Eldorado continues to improve. Through use of premium fuel, the MPG has increased and stabilized between 8 and 9 MPG.

June 26, 2008: This was a rest and prep-day during which most of the VAC members began assembling at the Bozeman KOA for June 27 parade into the Rally. My site (directly across from the office) provided me with a front-row seat for all of the arrivals. This KOA would rank among my three favorite KOAs – a clean, pleasant facility.

June 27, 2008: Parade day dawned pleasantly cool and wonderfully sunny. Organizing the Parade is definitely more of a job since the 30-AMP electric service option has been added. The order for today was: 30-AMP Vintage first followed by 3-AMP Vintage, next 30-AMP non-Vintage, and finally 30-AMP non-Vintage. With more than 70 coaches in the parade, the event was quite memorable. I had forgotten how hot the sun could become when sitting for extended periods during a parade, but it was worth the minor discomfort to be driving with the top down. The VAC parking site was excellent, and we were allowed a bit more room between trailers than at some Internationals that I have attended. Setup and leveling was remarkable easy, and we had both water and electric in near lightning speed. The VAC parade parking was completed at approximately 12:30 – our parade lineup began at 10:30 a.m.

June 28 – July 4, 2008: WBCCI International Rally – my most enjoyable since Boise, ID in 1998. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the Vintage parking area was a hub of activity. The assortment of seminars was very good, and there seemed to be a few more vendors than in some recent years – still not quite as many as were at Boise in 1998. The weather was excellent, and I only wished for 30-AMP for air conditioning on one day when it was hot with very little wind – on all but that one day we had pleasant breezes blowing almost continually.

July 4, 2008: Broke camp and was on the road to Mountain Meadow RV Park in Hungry Horse Montana by about 11:00 a.m. The trip was quite pleasant, but due to a near constant threat of rain the top remained in the up position. Fuel economy appeared to be approximately 8 MPG on premium fuel. I was quite relieved when my route took me off of I-90 as the Cadillac is definitely happier traveling below 60 MPH with the trailer in tow. The scenery along the route was fantastic, but my GPS was not happy and continually confused two highways (one East/West and the other North/South) – fortunately, I had reviewed the route and was familiar enough with the territory to ignore the scolding from the GPS. It took a little more than 7 hours to cover the 360 miles from Bozeman to Hungry Horse. I joined Dallas and Pam Peak (DPeakMD) at Mountain Meadow RV Park shortly before 7:00 p.m. The Cadillac ran beautifully for this leg of the trip.

July 5, 2008: Started the morning by lowering the top and prepping the Cadillac for our tour of Glacier National Park. At about 10:00 a.m. the Peaks and I left for our tour of Glacier. The weather was fantastic, and we were treated to the site of much more wildlife than we could have expected. We were treated to the antics of a young black bear, a squirrel that was playing “chicken” with the traffic, several mountain goats, and a few pronghorn sheep. The heavy winter snows resulted in some of the most spectacular water features – the Weeping Wall had so much water flowing it was more like a waterfall – there was a second section that was normally dry that resembled a second Weeping Wall. Going to the Sun Highway had only been open for a couple of days prior to our arrival, and it was obvious from the height of the snow along several sections of the road why the opening was so late. There was an extended section of the road that was one-way due to road damage that was being repaired – our timing was great and we didn’t have to wait long going in either direction, but the wait could be quite long during the peak travel time. Decided to purchase fuel in St. Mary – highest price yet $4.56 per gallon for premium – fortunately the car took only 12 gallons at this stop. This tour of Glacier National Park will definitely be one for the memory books.

July 6-7, 2008: I found Mountain Meadow RV Park so relaxing that I took a site for two more days. This afternoon (7th) I am planning to eat lunch at the Isaac Walton Inn. After lunch, I will be planning the balance of my route back to Illinois. I will be departing Mountain Meadow RV Park on Tuesday.

The photos below are highlights of Glacier National Park.

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Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:07 AM   #14
1 Rivet Member
1976 24' Argosy 24
ftwayne , Indiana
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 8
hey i have really enjoyed reading your post great looking setup i really enjoyed the part about yellowstone .my son has lived out at the park for two years now.hes at cayon center my husband and i were just talking about how cool it would be to tow our argosy with a older tv

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