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Old 06-19-2012, 07:02 PM   #1
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Hello,

I have a 1959 Dodge Custom Royal 4 door hardtop with the 361 4-barrel and the torqueflite. I remember my grandfather towing an Airstream with it in the late 1950's. I want to buy an Airstream to tow with it but can't find any info on the towing capacity. It had a strange hitch on it and I have the overloads used. Can anyone help?

Thanks,

Doug
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Old 06-19-2012, 07:50 PM   #2
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Good day Doug. There are a lot of Vintage car owners here on the forum that should be able to help.

Anyway a bit of trivia. Back in the 60's my dad did a lot of towing with a 1964 Dodge just like this one. It only had the 313ci but it had lots of torque.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:13 PM   #3
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Wow, the car my Dad bought when I was born the next to the next to the last day of 1958!! Tax deduction for a child was realistic way back when. They had it until 1966. Green & white, with a SEARS A/C underdash unit added almost immediately (and that never needed a Freon re-charge).

Towing puts quite a strain on all suspension and steering "rubber". From body and sub-frame bushings, to leaf bushings and torsion arm bushings to the steering rack "ragg" joint. Those were the first order of business I attended to when I inherited another family car, a 1971 Chrysler. After that were completely new brakes. (And I would not tow anything with a single cylinder brake master; I believe upgrades to better systems are available; the 1965-1973 Chrysler vehicles all could use 1971 and later single piston front disc / rear drum systems with dual cylinder, for example).

Steering or front end slop is completely unacceptable in a tow vehicle. Adjustments can be made (mechanical skill needed, but experienced at adjusting a box is better).

There was little to none towing information available at that time of the type we take for granted today. Hitches were pretty much all custom. Chrysler began providing blueprints for hitch building at some point in time relative to that (mid-1960's forward).

Here's an example. Diagonal cross-bracing also recommended. (And pull the gas tank and replace or carefully overhaul it now: new lines, etc. An "pusher" CARTER fuel pump added at that location an excellent upgrade to help prevent vapor lock; internally-regulated.)

And, what "overloads"? Extra spring pack? (rear of the car sits too high)?

As to what you can tow, only your wallet will decide. An aero all-aluminum trailer up to 5,000-lbs won't be any problem given the proper hitch rigging (and better brakes for the tow vehicle), best brake controller, transmission & power steering fluid coolers/filters.

The car's cooling system needs to be about perfect (thermostatic control fan clutch and good fan shrouding). And I'd also convert to a modern internally-regulated alternator (post-1970) were it mine.

Rear axle ratio is another concern. 2.73:1 is great for solo car highway. 2.94:1 (the Imperial ratio) is better, and the Chrysler towing package axle ratio of later years (to the late 1970's) was 3.23:1 (which would be my choice). It's a fairly simple change-out due to the axle design. The engine and transmission will have a much easier life with numerically higher gears (and around town mpg can also improve).

Be sure to have the bands adjusted on that T-flite when a fluid/filter change is done. And have a rear axle bearing service and re-pack done (tapered roller bearings not lubricated by the axle gear oil (superior design, but unfamiliar to Ford or Chubby owners).

That engine -- with it's leaded gasoline requirement -- will be okay until one day it isn't. Valve recession is a real deal on a car asked to work . . and towing is work. Rebuilt stock heads, or a possible swap to -346 1971 or later cylinder heads will be wanted. The carb may or may not be problematic. An Edelbrock AFB clone is fairly simple to set up if wanted. A single exhaust pipe system is adequate if one follows Chryslers design: 2.25" downpipes to 2.5" main to muffler then 1.78" to tip. No crimps, specify mandrel-bent pipe.

My choice of oil would be Shell Rotella T6 5W-40, and a WIX filter (or NAPA Gold) as both are reliable and easy to source.

I'd also convert to MOPAR electronic ignition. Be sure to check for timing chain slop. A CLOYES double roller is a good upgrade (and be sure harmonic balancer rubber not rotted).

Welcome!!



.
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Old 06-20-2012, 11:21 AM   #4
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Wow...thanks for the detailed response. The overloads are extra leaf springs for the back...don't know the why except the trailer weight might cause the car to sink in the back. All I need now is a recommendation for a good Mopar shop in the greater LA -OC area...I'll need help to get it all done soon.

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Old 06-20-2012, 12:53 PM   #5
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My grandpa towed with a 68 Dodge Polara station wagon. His travel trailer was a 24' Norris manufactured somewhere down in Tennessee and weighed ~5000 lbs. The car had the 383 engine set up with a factory tow package - 12" x 3" drum brakes on all 4 wheels and factory welded on trailer hitch. I need to find an old picture of Grandpa's car and trailer I think some of you may enjoy it.

Fuel - you can always buy lead additive in a bottle to add to the fuel tank and it help with the lubrication of the valves and the cut down on the knock and ping. I use this on my Gravely tractor.

Oil - consider a zinc additive to the oil to save the camshaft/lifters.

Suspension - I believe my grandpa's car used "load leveler" type of shocks. You could also get an air bags to help with the load.


cooling - make sure you have at least a 3 core radiator. If your not worried about keeping it totally original I would opt for a customized cross flow aluminum radiator. I put one in my Jeep Grand Wagoneer and over heating was a thing of the past.

Ignition - Another option is a Pertronix ignition. I like this system because everything looks original. The system replaces the plate inside the original distributor that holds the points and condensor and puts in an electronic system. The only exterior modification is a 12v hot wire ran to the distributor. I used a system in our 1974 CJ-5 to replace the points and condenser. The spark is always hot and consistent - the spark plugs now last a long time and generally starts, idles and runs much better.

BTW - that's a nice ride!
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REDNAX View Post
Towing puts quite a strain on all suspension and steering "rubber". From body and sub-frame bushings, to leaf bushings and torsion arm bushings to the steering rack "ragg" joint. Those were the first order of business I attended to when I inherited another family car, a 1971 Chrysler.


Rear axle ratio is another concern. 2.73:1 is great for solo car highway. 2.94:1 (the Imperial ratio) is better, and the Chrysler towing package axle ratio of later years (to the late 1970's) was 3.23:1 (which would be my choice). It's a fairly simple change-out due to the axle design. The engine and transmission will have a much easier life with numerically higher gears (and around town mpg can also improve)..
Good stuff from REDNAX.

Bushings, and especially suspension bushings and ball joints are very often overlooked even on later model used TVs. I second that one whole heatedly.

I would go with as low (numerically high) ratio as possible on the rear axle. I do not know Dodge options for that axle but 3.23 seems like a minimum depending on what diameter tires you end up with. The motor, tranny and torque converter will all be very happy as you move those shift points up. As REDNAX mentioned, towing gas mileage will improve and you may see little difference not towing.

Redline tranny fluid is excellent - check out the specs.

Flush the brake fluid! Regularly.
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by My59Dodge View Post
Hello,

I have a 1959 Dodge Custom Royal 4 door hardtop with the 361 4-barrel and the torqueflite. I remember my grandfather towing an Airstream with it in the late 1950's. I want to buy an Airstream to tow with it but can't find any info on the towing capacity. It had a strange hitch on it and I have the overloads used. Can anyone help?

Thanks,

Doug

Doug,

...... remember Granddad wasn't towing the Interstates at 65mph for hrs on end.

Plan ahead.

Bob

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Old 06-20-2012, 04:42 PM   #8
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Overloads probably will not be necesary if you go with a Weight Distribution Hitch which will shift much rear axle weight to the front. In fact it would be HIGHLY recommended. Also get all the cooling add ons you can for the engine and tranny. Nice car.

Neil
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