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Old 09-12-2013, 01:45 PM   #1
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1972 27' Overlander
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Question Will my '99 Dodge Durango 5.2 liter 318 V8 Magnum pull my 1972 27 ft Airstream?

Hi everyone. I am new to this forum and also a proud owner of a 1972
27 ft. Airstream. Her name is DD (I'm living my "Dads Dream" hence the DD )

I pull her with my 99 Dodge Durango 4x4. The motor size is a 5.2 liter 318 V8 Magnum.
When I go up a hill my truck wants to kick into a higher gear. And if it is a steep hill it will do it a couple times.
I know this can't be good on my transmission so I am here to ask yuns if you could tell me if my truck is big enough to pull her.
Please be honest with me as I don't understand a lot about the works of vehicles nor my Airstream. The first time I took her out the brakes started smoking and I rolled into an intersection. Thankfully there was no one comein.
I just spent over $500.00 on new tires for her and almost $1000.00 to have vented rotors, brakes and the brake box reinstalled on my truck. I can't afford another vehicle at this time, but I want to get out and enjoy campin.
Any and all help would be appreciated.
Thank you,
Francene
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Old 09-12-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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When you go up a hill it is normal for an engine to change gears. That's what we have transmissions for

What isn't normal is that your brakes started smoking. A properly setup rig should stop marginally quicker than just the tow vehicle on its own.

Do you have a brake controller installed in your truck, which controls the trailer brakes, or are you relying on the tow vehicle's brakes to bring the entire rig to a stop? If your trailer brakes don't work, you're asking for serious trouble.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:06 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtviewnana View Post
When I go up a hill my truck wants to kick into a higher gear. And if it is a steep hill it will do it a couple times.
I know this can't be good on my transmission so I am here to ask yuns if you could tell me if my truck is big enough to pull her.

The first time I took her out the brakes started smoking and I rolled into an intersection. Thankfully there was no one comein.
I think you mean the transmission kicks Down to a Lower gear when climbing a hill. This is normal. As the load on the engine goes up the transmission is shifted to a lower gear to reduce the load. Also keep in mind. What ever gear you climb the hill in is the gear you want to descend the hill with. This rule will save your brakes and should be used whenever the hill is say longer than a 1/2 hill on the down hill side. This requires you to select the gear using the shift lever as you start down the hill. This is something you will have to get used to as no to hills are the same. Just keep it in the back of your mind that the brakes are not your only option. You have seen and heard the truckers do it for years.

When you say the brakes smoked. Which brakes? the trailer in which case your controller is set TOO high. To set the controller find a clear road or large parking lot. Drive 25 mph and but the trailer brakes on FULL with the manual leaver on the controller. If the brakes lockup reduce the controller and try again untill they just do not lock up. That will adjust the controller.

If it was the truck brakes that locked up I would assume you had NO trailer brakes at all. Try rolling forward and applying the trailer brakes with the manual leaver. The trailer should stop you. If you feel nothing you have a trailer brake problem. Could be electrical, controller adjustment, or trailer brake shoes not adjusted. In any case seek help as this is not something I think you are in a position to tackle yourself.

As far a s the 318 goes it is on the Light side for towing but if you use the transmission by letting it shift down or down shifting your self you should be OK if you stay out of the mountains. I would suggest having a transmission cooler installed. You can never run a trans too cool. Some will come back at that statement but let me say I ran my Suburban at 160 degrees in the summer and 105 in the dead of winter by completely removing it from the radiator and using external cooler only.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:08 PM   #4
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1972 27' Overlander
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Thank you for replyin Andy. I bought the trailer a year ago. And just starting to use it.
Yes I have the brake controller in my truck. And I have no problems stoppin now. All of that was before I got the vented rotors and the brakes adjusted. The trailer had 4 different size tires on it and they were very old and cracked, different air pressures, and the bearings (I think that is what they are called) and they had no grease in them. One side of the brakes was to tight. The brakes had never been adjusted by the people we had bought it from. So I don't know how long they had been in that condition. But they work great now.
I have been to a couple different RV places and they both told me different things. One said my truck was plenty big enough to pull it and another said no it isn't. And then of course our truck dealer said I needed a bigger truck. Another words "We will sell you a new one"
Thank you for any help.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:11 PM   #5
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As a owner of 2 Durangos, I can tell you that with the smaller engine instead of the 5.9L, your pushing it. But, if it is setup correctly, you will be ok(maybe).

I would see if you have any kind of tow package including a tranny cooler.

And you must absolutely get the brakes taken care of. I like to be able to stop your entire setup with the trailer brakes.

As far as the tranny gear shifts. I sacrifice speed for RPMS. Your camping. Don't rush.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:25 PM   #6
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1972 27' Overlander
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Thank you everyone. I appreciate your quick responses. I have learned a lot. I wish I would have asked sooner.
The brakes have been taken care of. And they work great now. We have learned how to adjust them each time before we hit the road. No problems since getting new tires, brake pads, brakes adjusted, bearings packed and a new brake box thing in the truck.
I was just worried about my truck not bein big enough to haul her. But since getting the brakes all fixed and the new tires she travels smoothly.
Another thing I have been told is I should always drive with the Overdrive off. Is this right?
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:34 PM   #7
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I won't go into the mechanical factors behind this but will repeat the need for a trans cooler if you are Always driving out of OD.
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Old 09-12-2013, 05:47 PM   #8
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Make sure you have:

A working, adjusted brake controller

A transmission cooler

A weight distribution hitch

I suggest E rated high quality LT tires.

For your truck, I would turn off the overdrive anytime it keeps shifting up and down a lot.

You will want to stay on top of all vehicle repairs - cooling was a big problem on my 01 5.9L. Other problem areas are: transmission (46RE), front drive shaft, and anti lock brake pump. You will most likely be over weight, but you can make it work.
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:00 PM   #9
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A transmission cooler is a real good idea and lock the transmission into a lower gear if it is changing gears alot going up hill. Also getting some sort of transmission temp gage can help you tell when you are over stressing things. Usually downshifting will take some load off the transmission.

Perry
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:23 PM   #10
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1972 27' Overlander
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Thank you for all of your responses. When I go up a hill the RPMs will sometimes go to 3500 to 4500 RPMs. Should I be concerned?
I will be lookin into getting a transmission cooler this weekend. Where would I get one of these and around about how much should I pay for one?
Thanks you in advance.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:21 AM   #11
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When I selected a TV for our Airstream engine size was not at the top of my list. What I have to keep reminding myself is that the torque or most gas engines is not produced at a low 1600 rpm like a diesel. I have to keep reminding myself on steep grades manually select a gear that will keep the engine around the 3000 rpm range. The 318 is a very tough excellent engine. If I could give one bit of advice....go down hills slow in a manually selected gear where you do not ride your brakes...for me trained hauling coal out of the mountains in a 5 axel rig....do not let the load ( Airstream ) get ahead of you go slow down fast up lol...
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:31 AM   #12
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Let me add this synthetic motor oil and transmission fluids will generally handle high stress and heat better than conventional. Manually select the gear control the rpm for me 3500 would be the max for the 318. For instance if you are manually in 3 or 2 start leaving off the gas at 3000 rpm if it really steep go to 3500....long pulls at 4500 rpm is asking for trouble in my book....take it out of cruise and use the accelerator and gearshift and enjoy the experience of independence.
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Old 09-21-2013, 04:46 PM   #13
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you didn't mention what gears are in it. Towing with any 1/2 ton is certainly going to be harder compared to a larger truck. towing with a 1/2 ton is all about gearing. a gas motor make tq at higher rpm so its fine to go to a lower gear, what you don't want o is let it keep going back to OD then back to 3rd then back to OD ect.... if you hit a hill and it drops back to 3rd gear let it go there just take the OD off so it wont keep switching back and forth that's the trans killer. Typically going with a rear gear of say 3.73 to 4.10 or so with a ga 1/2 ton is the way to go. Depending on the specific truck and HP but ihat area is generally going to give the best balance of power and fuel econ. BTW I agree 4500 rpm in 2nd up a 2 mile hill, I would just slow down it wont build as much heat in the trans and you suck less fuel. You wont be rocket ship but it will get the job done no problem. Let the trans do its thing just help it o by holding the gear on bigger hills. (assuming you don't have a tow/haul mode have to be the tow/haul mode)
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:55 PM   #14
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I'd definitely get an external transmission cooler if your vehicle doesn't already have one.

Read the owners manual I'm sure it's going to tell you 'not to tow in over-drive' (don't do it no matter how flat the terrain is).....I was told by a reputable mechanic that 'under load' an automatic transmission won't cool right in over-drive (after experiencing it first hand).
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