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Old 11-11-2004, 02:29 PM   #1
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'81 Merc. Maruis and 22 foot Safari

I am entirely new to this thing, but am contemplating buying a '66 Safari
with a dry weight of 3360 lbs and a tongue wt. of 377 lbs, and a 20.5 hitch height.

The tow vehicle would be:
1981 Mercury Grand Marquis
I would upgrade to the Class 111 towing package ( providing such a thing is still available.)
The manual states that the maximum trailer wt. is 6000 lbs., with a tongue load of 750 lbs. with the towing package.
The wheelbase of the Merc. is 114.3 inches, the engine is 5.8 litres.
I do not know if sway bars are on the Airstream or not.

Does this sound like a marriage made in heaven or the other kind?
I have the idea that older Fords were more up to these kind of tasks compared to the newer editions.

Alternatively, should I consider something smaller in an Airstream, I cannot contemplate a new vehicle at this time, as well as a travel trailer.

I have as well a 1985 Crown Victoria, that could be used as a substitute.

I have researced the excellent resources available on this and other sites.

Thanks, Chris
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Old 11-11-2004, 02:46 PM   #2
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I think either would do just fine so long as you had the proper hitch and perhaps a good trans cooler.
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertwinkie
I think either would do just fine so long as you had the proper hitch and perhaps a good trans cooler.
Thanks Silvertwinkie, I am not comtemplating using the trailer for touring at the present, I just want to go 500 miles to get it and let it rest as a guest quarters behind my business for the summer season. Up the road, I hope to tour with it, but at that time, I probably will have upgraded my vehicle.

My approach is to have a rig setup as though I were taking it long distance, as I think the excuse of "only going to get it", would be a little thin if it caused an accident on the way back.

I am on the hunt for the vehicle weight of the Marquis, but I do know that it impresses you when it goes over your toe. Chris.
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Old 11-11-2004, 03:46 PM   #4
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'81 Merc. Maruis and 22 foot Safari

Greetings Chris!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

I agree with Silvertwinkie, either of the two vehicles would be capable. My suggestion would be to focus upon the Mercury with its 5.8 liter V8 as opposed to what I would assume to be a 5.0 liter in the later model Ford Crown Victoria. The Crown Victoria had a 5,000 pound trailer tow package when ordered with the special factory trailer tow package in '85 (it was considered as an alternative to the '85 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that I have), but less than 2,000 pounds when ordered without - - in my area it was almost unheard of to find a Crown Victoria of that era with anything much beyond a 2.73 differential gear which would make towing with the 5.0 liter less than desirable. Even without the factory tow package, the '81 Mercury is only very marginally heavier than the Crown Victoria with the larger displacement V8 - - I suspect that it would be a happy traveler with fewer modifications (at the bare minimum you will want a transmission fluid cooler as mentioned by Silvertwinkie).

Good luck with your Safari!

Kevin
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Old 11-11-2004, 04:58 PM   #5
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Chris

And as the others have alweady said, "... Welcome ".

Take a look at the 1966 Air Stream Brouchure that dealer's pasted out. All through it has photo's of that years trailer and in front of each trailer is a pulling vehicle from differant manufactures. The pulling vehicle was a lot of regular cars just like the ones your parents may have owned.

This past July at the Vintage Rally which was held in Colo Spgs there was a woman who pulled her trailer with her four door sedan ( a white Ford if I remember collectly ). I pull a '70 InterNational with either a '63 Le Baron, a '66 Le Baron and now we have added a '77 two wheel drive Dodge pick up ( 115" wb, 360, 11" r/brakes & etc ).

Do pick your target pulling vehicle and then have a load bearing frame hitch installed if you don't have the means to do it yourself. Get a seven wire trailer plug, the electric trailer brake hook up and as the others have stated, the additional transmission cooler ( the cooling flow is transmission to the bottom of the radiator, the new cooler and then back to the transmission ). If it was me I would go for the car which has the largest engine and tire size.

Rodger & Gabby
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Old 11-11-2004, 08:02 PM   #6
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Thanks for the welcome and sincere advice everyone.
I am starting off with a pretty stock Marquis; from the prev. posts I understand that I should have:
1-A load bearing frame hitch
2-A 7-wire electrical hook-up
3-A connection for the trailer electric brake
4-A transmission cooler

What does the class 3 trailer towing package contain in addition to this? Am I likely to find the package that will work with a vehicle of the '81 vintage?
Lastly, this is going to sound really stupid, are sway bars normally attached to Safaris from the year '66, and if not how advisable would it be to drive without the sway bars installed?
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Old 11-11-2004, 08:43 PM   #7
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'81 Merc. Maruis and 22 foot Safari

Greetings Chris!

Towing with an automobile, you will definitely want a receiver style hitch with weight distribution and sway control (IMHO). I towed primarily with automobiles from 1980 through 1995 when I purchased my first truck-based tow vehicle (there was one two-year stint where I towed with a GMC 3/4-ton van - - 1983-84), and weight distribution is an absolute necessity with the springing commonly found in the Marquis and competing cars of the period. I found sway to be more noticeable with my auto than my truck-based vehicles, and I suspect that in great part it relates to the weight and physical mass of the light-truck compared to the automobile. Personally, I would recommend the Reese Strait-Line Hitch with Daul Cam Sway control - - I have used this hitch system exclusively since 1995, and utilized the similar hitch without Dual Cam Sway Control but with friction type sway control prior to that. Just be prepared when shopping for the ball mount/weight distribution bars - - many shops will try to sell you 1,000 pound weight distribution bars - - with your coach you won't want any heavier than 600 pound and I would suggest 500 pound bars (the 600 may be the lightest currently available as my 500 pound bars are nearing 20 years of age).

I suspect that you are going to have difficulty finding a bolt-on hitch to fit your Mercury. Lately, there are very few receiver style hitch packages offered for automobiles of any type. What you will likely find is the situation that I faced with my '75 Cadillac Edlorado - - a custom weld-up hitch. It can be a real challenge to find a welder who is familiar with hitches who is still willing to weld-up a hitch for an automobile - - I talked to many who refused the job due to liability fears before I found a gentleman who routinely created weld-up hitches for those involved in farming, and the hitch that he fabricated is a near work of art in the way that it fits the car without calling attention to itself. Basically, a welder will take a Receiver Tube with Collar, and add square tube and flat stock to create the receiver which in my case was then bolted to brackets welded to the frame of the car.

The one item that hasn't been mentioned that you will need for your towcar, and that is a good set of rear view mirrors. They aren't as common as they once were, but some trailer dealers may stock some of the less expensive varieties. My favorite mirrors that I use with both my Cadillac Eldorado and GMC Suburban are McKesh Mirrors - - they are costly, but will last for many years (the set that I have for my Cadillac are more than twenty years old and have required nothing more than a re-webbing kit that is available from the manufacturer for less than $20. You can see the Vintage McKesh Mirrors on my '75 Cadillac Edlorado in the photo below:



Be prepared for some surprised looks if you tow with an automobile on the Interstates - - I think more than a few drivers were shocked to see a 29-year-old Cadillac pulling an Airstream on I-80 just before I took the above photo near my former home in the Quad Cities.

Something that you will also want to be prepared for is that the '66 Safari may very well have a Bargman connector that is not wired to the modern standard and it may also have round pins rather than the flat blades of the current connector that is in common use. The coach is likely wired to the 1966-1981 Airstream Bargman Plug Wiring Diagram while your tow vehicle will lkely be wired to the current industry standard wiring diagram. While it is a personal preference issue, most wire the coach's connector to match the modern standards used on current tow vehicles. Basically this means paying close attention to the functions of the wires in the Airstream's umbilical cord rather than just the colors, then wiring the connector based on functions rather than colors to match the current standard. Both of my coaches needed to have their connectors rewired, and despite my lack of do-it-yourself skills, I was able to complete the Minuet's conversion in a little less than two hours (this included carefully testing each of the wires on the Airstream with a 12-volt garden tractor battery and alligator clamps to verify that it matched the Airstream schematic which it did).

Good luck with your project!

Kevin
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Old 11-11-2004, 09:09 PM   #8
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I took a quick scan through the posts here, and I didn't see anyone reminding you that, if your Grand Marquis has the AOD transmission, to tow in D, not OD. It would put too much strain on the little bearings and gears in the overdrive unit. A good class 3/5 hitch should still be available, although it may have to be ordered in. This car has the same frame used up until 1991.

Also, an electric brake controller, the part that goes on the bottom of the instument panel and operates the trailer's electric brakes, is a must.

Terry
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Old 11-11-2004, 10:47 PM   #9
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Rear axle/final drive ratio

Chris,

I'd definiely check which car has the highest final drive ratio. A 5.0 with 3.55 gears will likely pull much harder than a 5.8 with 2:73 gears in the rear axle.
Might as well put the hitch on the car with the most favorable combination, hopefully this helps you decide.
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