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Old 08-17-2012, 08:47 AM   #1
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Anybody here tow with a Grand Wagoneer?

Anybody here tow their Airstream with a Jeep Grand Wagoneer? I've always been a huge fan of those old Jeeps and there's just something so classy about the Jeep and Airstream combo. The plan is to literally build one from the ground up. Looking for suggestions on drivetrain, gears, hitches etc.

As of right now I'm thinking of a GM 5.3 V8, 4L60E trans, 3.54 gears for the drivetrain and a set of helper airbag springs with a weight distribution hitch. What type of helper spring airbags and weight distribution hitch do you guys recommend?

The Jeep will be an everyday vehicle so I can't go too extreme with the modifications. The plan is to build the Jeep first then find the right Airstream. For those of you towing with these old Jeeps which model are you towing and what length? How big is too big?
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:08 AM   #2
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My first tow vehicle for Airstreams was a Cherokee, full sized, like the Grand Wagoneer. It did several trips to the Yukon and much other towing.

In comparison to TV's today, it was not the greatest rig. The short wheelbase and somewhat sloppy suspension made it want to oversteer, unless very very carefully set up. At that time I was towing 23 and 25' Airstreams.

You can build anything of course, and modify until the cows come home, and may wind up with a nice rig, but still you are dealing with a short wheelbase vehicle designed in the 60's and out of date from the safety standpoint, as well as many other areas. Technology has progressed a lot from that time.

Of course that is my opinion only. I still love Jeeps, and currently tow with a 2012 Grand Cherokee Overland, with all the goodies. I love it, and it is a fine tow vehilcle. I use the Andersen hitch BTW.
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:30 AM   #3
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I used to tow a 22' Airstream with a 1990 GW in stock form. I have a bias for old full size Jeeps so I loved the setup but I wanted a larger trailer.
If you have a weight distribution hitch you don't really need the helper springs. I would recommend new rear springs from BJ's Offroad or a local spring shop as most old Wagoneers have "wag sag" by now.
I used a Hensley hitch with the setup and there were no issues with crosswinds, sway or weight distribution.
I also had a J20 with the original AMC 360 engine and 3:73 gears. I dumped the carburetor and swapped in a TBI system. The TBI system consisted of off the shelf GM parts and drove like a modern day car.
It looks like your going to swap in a modern drivetrain. If your towing a 28' Argosy trailer in your signature then I would lean towards 3:73 gears.
I would also recommend an aluminum crossflow radiator. I put these in both of my Jeeps and never had over heating issues.
My personal taste would be to swap in a Hemi but the combo you have suggested should be very good.
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Old 08-17-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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If you build a proper chassis for your rig the body is basically along for the ride.
I would start a project like this with a pickup truck frame and modify it for the Jeep body to fit, Mid 90's GMC/Chevy would give you good parts availability, but a Ram with the Hemi would be a great combo both for towing and to keep in the Chrysler family. You would have a great looking vintage vehicle with modern reliability and towing ability.

My 65 cobra replica has an 80's Mustang engine and brakes. It handles better than my 06 mustang, and is just as reliable. I can even get 25mpg highway, while still looking like a 65 Cobra.

I've seen lots of 50's ford pickup bodies on 80's and 90's short box ford PU frames.
A friend of mine plans to build his "ultimate Tow vehicle" by putting a 50's Jeep station wagon on a severly modified Dodge truck frame with a Cummins.
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:27 PM   #5
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The grand wagoneer frame and axles are built plenty heavy for trailer towing and parts are still readily available. The only other upgrade I can think of doing would be changing the rear drum brakes to disk brakes. There are several kits available for the Dana 44 axle or AMC corporate axle.
I guess you could go either way if you have a cheap donor vehicle.
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Old 08-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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I can't say for certain how my '75 J20 will tow on the road. I boughtit years ago to tow a 5er. About the time the 360 went sour we sold the 5er and bought our Trade Wind to tow with our '71 Buick convertible with the 455. WOW that engine can PULL! So I replaced the 360 in the Jeep with another Buick 455. I haven't yet been on the road towing with the Jeep. The 455 is plenty powerfull as I use the truck to manuever the Airstream around our 2 hilly acres. The 455 weighs upwards to 100# more than the 360 did. This makes the truck nose heavy. But several hundred lbs in the back does make a difference. BUT whe push comes to shove the convertible gets the nod when we decide to travel with the AS.
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:42 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info guys! I do realize the design is a little outdated but this will be a very well thought out process and atleast a year or two in the making.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crispyboy View Post
If you have a weight distribution hitch you don't really need the helper springs. I would recommend new rear springs from BJ's Offroad or a local spring shop as most old Wagoneers have "wag sag" by now.
I used a Hensley hitch with the setup and there were no issues with crosswinds, sway or weight distribution.
I also had a J20 with the original AMC 360 engine and 3:73 gears. I dumped the carburetor and swapped in a TBI system. The TBI system consisted of off the shelf GM parts and drove like a modern day car.
It looks like your going to swap in a modern drivetrain. If your towing a 28' Argosy trailer in your signature then I would lean towards 3:73 gears.
I would also recommend an aluminum crossflow radiator. I put these in both of my Jeeps and never had over heating issues.
My personal taste would be to swap in a Hemi but the combo you have suggested should be very good.
The plan is to start out with 4 new springs from BJ's and use the later model sway bars then go from there. Over the course of my build I'd probably have a small mortgage going to them, hopefully that will really help...Last thing I want is to end up stranded somewhere. A J20 would make for a great tow rig for sure, sounds like yours had quite the setup!

Don't have a trailer yet but do have an older '28 Class A. I think the forum software wanted something in there to enable the registration along with full name and address.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AldeanFan View Post
If you build a proper chassis for your rig the body is basically along for the ride.
I would start a project like this with a pickup truck frame and modify it for the Jeep body to fit, Mid 90's GMC/Chevy would give you good parts availability, but a Ram with the Hemi would be a great combo both for towing and to keep in the Chrysler family. You would have a great looking vintage vehicle with modern reliability and towing ability.

My 65 cobra replica has an 80's Mustang engine and brakes. It handles better than my 06 mustang, and is just as reliable. I can even get 25mpg highway, while still looking like a 65 Cobra.

I've seen lots of 50's ford pickup bodies on 80's and 90's short box ford PU frames.
A friend of mine plans to build his "ultimate Tow vehicle" by putting a 50's Jeep station wagon on a severly modified Dodge truck frame with a Cummins.
Sounds like one heck of a Mustang! Your buddy's Willys Wagon sounds like it's gonna be a sweet rig also. That's another option I'm taking into consideration, just need to find the right donor for the chassis then go thru and make it all new again. Not sure if that's the route I'm going yet tho.
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crispyboy View Post
The grand wagoneer frame and axles are built plenty heavy for trailer towing and parts are still readily available. The only other upgrade I can think of doing would be changing the rear drum brakes to disk brakes. There are several kits available for the Dana 44 axle or AMC corporate axle.
I guess you could go either way if you have a cheap donor vehicle.
That's part of the plan also, modernizing as much as possible. 4 wheel disc with a GM style hydroboost should make for easy stopping.
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Old 08-17-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Anybody here tow with a Grand Wagoneer?

My first tow vehicle for my Overlander in 1995 was a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It wass an excellent tow vehicle, but I wouldn't go any larger with than my 6,100 pound Overlander with the Grand Wagoneer that I had. My Grand Wagoneer had the 360 cubic inch V8 with TorqueFlyte Automatic Transmission and 3.90 differential gearing. The factory 18 gallon fuel tank limited its solo cruising range to 190 to 200 miles on the highway and only about 175 miles when towing the Overlander. My main reason for trading the Grand Wagoneer on a new tow vehicle was to get one with a cruising range at least double what I had with the Grand Wagoneer. I never had four wheel drive issues with the Grand Wagoneer, but have had nothing but four wheel drive problems with the two GM four wheel drive trucks that I have had (the GM trucks have had no problems other than transfer case problems with the four wheel drive mechanisms).

Kevin
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Old 08-17-2012, 02:03 PM   #10
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My first tow vehicle for my Overlander in 1995 was a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It wass an excellent tow vehicle, but I wouldn't go any larger with than my 6,100 pound Overlander with the Grand Wagoneer that I had. My Grand Wagoneer had the 360 cubic inch V8 with TorqueFlyte Automatic Transmission and 3.90 differential gearing. The factory 18 gallon fuel tank limited its solo cruising range to 190 to 200 miles on the highway and only about 175 miles when towing the Overlander. My main reason for trading the Grand Wagoneer on a new tow vehicle was to get one with a cruising range at least double what I had with the Grand Wagoneer. I never had four wheel drive issues with the Grand Wagoneer, but have had nothing but four wheel drive problems with the two GM four wheel drive trucks that I have had (the GM trucks have had no problems other than transfer case problems with the four wheel drive mechanisms).

Kevin
That was another concern of mine, cruising range. I've found aftermarket tanks online in a 33 gallon size that mount in the stock location. More than likely one of those will wind up in the Jeep. On a different note I've heard a bunch of folks talk about the later model GM's and the transfercase issues. Hopefully they'll get those ironed out for you.
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Old 09-06-2012, 09:07 PM   #11
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I have an '89 Grand Wagoneer that is my daily driver and tow rig. I repowered it with a 3.9L Cummins. It has a Dodge Ram 3 speed hooked to the Jeep T-case. The Airstream came after the Jeep, so I now wish I had installed a 5.9 Cummins instead! The fuel tank capacity is a joke for the size of the vehicle. I plan on adding an aux. fuel tank in the future. If you want to see some more pictures or want more technical info, let me know.
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:26 AM   #12
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I have an '89 Grand Wagoneer that is my daily driver and tow rig. I repowered it with a 3.9L Cummins. It has a Dodge Ram 3 speed hooked to the Jeep T-case. The Airstream came after the Jeep, so I now wish I had installed a 5.9 Cummins instead! The fuel tank capacity is a joke for the size of the vehicle. I plan on adding an aux. fuel tank in the future. If you want to see some more pictures or want more technical info, let me know.
I'd love to see some photos. I bet you get some impressive MPG's while not towing!
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:19 PM   #13
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I hope this works...
This is my webshot folder of the Waggy..enjoy
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:33 PM   #14
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I hope this works...
This is my webshot folder of the Waggy..enjoy
That's a gorgeous Jeep you have there! I love the "razor" style grille. Just out of curiosity what kind of MPG's are you averaging with the 4BT? I see you've got the helper airsprings, judging by the photos of your rig hooked up to the trailer it looks like they've really helped?
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