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Old 01-19-2016, 11:39 AM   #1
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1967 26' Overlander
Richmond , Virginia
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Looking at a Grand Wagoneer for tow vehicle

I know this has been touched on before but I'd like people with experience using a GW as a tow vehicle.

I currently have an '05 silverado 4x4 extended cab with tow package towing my '67 Overlander using a Reese WD hitch. It's (obviously) fine for towing though the 5.3 has to kick down out of OD on moderate to steep hills, but I love the old GW's and would like one for a more fitting period tow vehicle. The AS has been remodeled a bit, weight should be close to stock with exception of an AC unit. AS pegs the dry weight at 4230lbs with 470lbs. tongue weight. Stock GW tow rating with class B tow package is 5000lbs (without WD hitch, supposedly 7500lbs with WD) and 750lbs tongue weight, so I should be well within the weight ratings.

I'm looking at late model ('87 up) GW's with the 5.9 and class B factory tow package (3.31 gears, trans cooler, wiring and 5000/750 hitch). My questions are, what can be be done to improve the GW for towing? What are good shocks, tires and cooling mods for it? How about brakes and engine wise?

My thoughts were good light truck tires, some bilstein or similar shocks along with a large auxiliary trans cooler and a decent cam with either a GM or aftermarket FI setup replacing the carb (I've spent years playing with carbs on muscle cars and bikes and I've had enough). I'd like to use it for family trips with and without the AS - and if we were to take any heavy items camping we'd use the truck. We take skiing trips in the winter and the room and 4x4 of the GW would be nice, and more comfortable than taking the truck as it has more interior space. Most of our camping trips are within a 3 hour radius of Richmond and usually not a ton of hills.
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Old 01-19-2016, 12:11 PM   #2
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I used to pull with a GW, still have it but my trailer got bigger and had to change tow vehicles. It's a nice ride, be patient and don't get in a hurry on the hills.

Cooling - ditch the older vertical core radiator and get an aluminum horizontal core radiator, make sure your clutch fan is up to snuff.
Transmission - good transmission cooler and maybe change your transmission fluid to synthetic to deal with higher temperatures.
Electronic ignition - there are upgrades to the old style coil and distributor cap that will give the vehicle hotter spark, etc.....
Brakes - stock are fine as long as they are up to snuff - put in a decent brake controller and keep the trailer brakes tuned up.
tires - go with the stock size but I would recommend getting an XL load range rating and keep the tire pressure up.
shocks - Bilstein hands down for a good solid ride.
fuel - If your not going to high elevations keep it simple and use a 4 barrel carb and edelbrock intake manifold. IF you go throttle body injection - I would use Howell EFI.
Are you using the stock motor? IF not then bump the cam up over stock.
If your GW came with a towing package there will be a box of relays up under the rear crossmember. These are for the trailer wiring harness and they work well. If not there are aftermarket options to get help with the trailer wiring harness.

PM me if you have other questions.
Steve
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Old 01-19-2016, 12:30 PM   #3
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That will be a nice looking rig. Love those vintage trailer and tow vehicle combos. Good luck with your search. Pat
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Old 01-19-2016, 12:48 PM   #4
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Thoughts on the old Grand Wagoneer:

I had the less delux Cherokee, but it was the same engine, tranny etc. Towed my 21 and 25' Airstreams with it. My dad had a Wagoneer.

1. The 360 engine is a bit anemic, especially by today's standards. It is very very thirsty, with a max of 8 or 9 mpg towing, and 12 solo.
2. The plastic timing chain gears wear and should be replaced with metal ones, if not the timing goes to hell and cannot be corrected. That means for even less power.
3. Mine was a carb version, I don't know if they ever made a TBI version in the last years of building them.
4. The wheelbase is pretty short, and unless you have very good weight transfer from a good WD hitch, the driving can get squarely fast, with over steer.
5. It was designed in the late 60's and early 70's and is a technologically very obsolete vehicle by all of today's standards.
6. AC was an add on joke.

Personally, I would never want one as a tow vehicle judged against standards of what is available today. Times have changed a lot.

Mine made several trips to the Yukon and was good in the late 70's and early 80's but again, the technology is old and the safety is just not there now.

Of course, my opinions only.
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Old 01-19-2016, 02:42 PM   #5
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1967 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
Thoughts on the old Grand Wagoneer:

I had the less delux Cherokee, but it was the same engine, tranny etc. Towed my 21 and 25' Airstreams with it. My dad had a Wagoneer.

1. The 360 engine is a bit anemic, especially by today's standards. It is very very thirsty, with a max of 8 or 9 mpg towing, and 12 solo.
2. The plastic timing chain gears wear and should be replaced with metal ones, if not the timing goes to hell and cannot be corrected. That means for even less power.
3. Mine was a carb version, I don't know if they ever made a TBI version in the last years of building them.
4. The wheelbase is pretty short, and unless you have very good weight transfer from a good WD hitch, the driving can get squarely fast, with over steer.
5. It was designed in the late 60's and early 70's and is a technologically very obsolete vehicle by all of today's standards.
6. AC was an add on joke.

Personally, I would never want one as a tow vehicle judged against standards of what is available today. Times have changed a lot.

Mine made several trips to the Yukon and was good in the late 70's and early 80's but again, the technology is old and the safety is just not there now.

Of course, my opinions only.
I have some experience with the amc 360 as I had one in a CJ, 2 barrel out of a wagoneer I believe, and spent a lot of time playing with it. I found that the stock timing/jetting was way off for power - likely set for emissions. It was very lean and the timing retarded. I added somewhere around 8 degrees of timing and fattened the mixture and it seemed to almost double the power and ran cooler along with giving me around 16mpg in the CJ (which is good for a CJ). I'm under no illusion that I'll get that economy in a GW, especially with an auto trans, but I'm not so worried about the (lack of) power. It was actually too much engine for the CJ as I ended up breaking 3 transmissions, u-joint straps and a set of rear leaf springs.

I plan to add TBI as I'm just tired of playing with carbs. I've had them in some vehicle or another for 20 years and while they can be low maintenance if you rebuild them with an ethanol compatible kit, get the choke set just right and really dial them in, FI is zero maintenance.

I have a Reese WD hitch, not sure if that's considered good or not, but it seems to work well so far.

The GW I'm looking at has a Jeep hitch, says 3500/350 weight bearing and 750/7500 WD. The manual (found online) states 750/5000 for the GW with class B hitch (does not distinguish WD vs. weight bearing), so not sure if that's a dealer install or if the Jeep has the factory tow package - which would include some of the other stuff - and what that would make the actual rating. I plan to look it over more closely tomorrow and take it for a drive. In either case, I should be ok rating wise as long as I don't add much over 500lbs worth of stuff to the AS when camping.

As to whether it's a suitable vehicle, I always take those discussions with a grain of salt - some say if it's rated for it and you have the proper equipment it's fine, others say a 1 ton is ideal for a pop up. The question is whether ideal = necessary. I have quite a bit of experience towing and have found the former is usually more than fine. That said, the trailer itself makes a huge difference. I had a 4800lb white box that would sway a little at speeds over 65mph while the airstream is rock solid at all speeds (though I rarely go over 70mph anyway). I plan to give it a go and if I don't like it, I'll sell the GW and stick to the truck.
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Old 01-19-2016, 03:02 PM   #6
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Would love to see some pics once you're done. It sounds like a great setup.
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Old 01-19-2016, 04:56 PM   #7
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First, I have never towed with a GW, but have with a Porsche Cayenne Turbo... huge power, yet not so great as a TV due to gearing and fuel consumption issues.

The big deciding factor for me is the distance I tow. The Cayenne would have been great if I never went no more than maybe 500-750 miles out from home. But, the frustration of having to stop for fuel every 200 miles really wore me out after a 700 mile day. And, when i was doing this we had a problem with availability of premium fuel, a nightmare of a situation when towing.

So, I went with a big diesel in 2008, have not had a second thought. So much easier to tow with something which will go up and down the Rockies and never miss a beat.

While a TV with the appropriate vintage for the trailer is certainly aesthetically pleasing, maybe there is something from that era which would be better for the job. Thee must be some real nice diesels from he late 80's or early 90's.

Oh well, just my thoughts today from Dearborn where it is a bit cool today...
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Old 01-19-2016, 06:12 PM   #8
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Oh well, just my thoughts today from Dearborn where it is a bit cool today...



Looking forward to your photos. Jim


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Old 01-19-2016, 08:01 PM   #9
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Thumbs up DW LOVED the GW....

......


But..... it wasn't much of a TV even with the 22' Safari.

It took way too many upgrades to make it just barely workable.

They are still one of the most popular, you see them on the silver screen and in commercials all the time.


Good thing is....if your willing to spend the $$$$$, They are still available
BRAND NEW.
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Old 01-19-2016, 09:24 PM   #10
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1967 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Msmoto View Post
First, I have never towed with a GW, but have with a Porsche Cayenne Turbo... huge power, yet not so great as a TV due to gearing and fuel consumption issues.

The big deciding factor for me is the distance I tow. The Cayenne would have been great if I never went no more than maybe 500-750 miles out from home. But, the frustration of having to stop for fuel every 200 miles really wore me out after a 700 mile day. And, when i was doing this we had a problem with availability of premium fuel, a nightmare of a situation when towing.

So, I went with a big diesel in 2008, have not had a second thought. So much easier to tow with something which will go up and down the Rockies and never miss a beat.

While a TV with the appropriate vintage for the trailer is certainly aesthetically pleasing, maybe there is something from that era which would be better for the job. Thee must be some real nice diesels from he late 80's or early 90's.

Oh well, just my thoughts today from Dearborn where it is a bit cool today...
Most of the old diesels were non turbo (read: anemic in the extreme) and almost none of the older trucks had extended cabs where the family could ride. That really leaves old station wagons and the full size jeep cherokees/wagoneers. That was it for pre SUV craze American tow vehicles that could seat four. I know there are quite a few cummins swapped GW's out there, but I'm not really into that type of project, at least not in the short term.

I have a similar fuel issue with my current truck, 22 gallon tank and 10-12mpg means a fuel stop every 3 hours, but that's usually as far as we go so not a big deal. 3 hours is about the limit before somebody has to use the bathroom anyway.
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Old 01-19-2016, 09:25 PM   #11
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1967 26' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERT CROSS View Post
......


But..... it wasn't much of a TV even with the 22' Safari.

It took way too many upgrades to make it just barely workable.

They are still one of the most popular, you see them on the silver screen and in commercials all the time.


Good thing is....if your willing to spend the $$$$$, They are still available
BRAND NEW.
What were the upgrades you did?

That 2nd picture is why I want one
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Old 01-19-2016, 09:28 PM   #12
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I always loved the Wagoneer. It would go well with a polished older Airstream.
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Old 01-19-2016, 10:01 PM   #13
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I've thought about this myself. Have you looked at this site: Jeep Grand Wagoneers - Full, Professional, Ground up Restorations. The finest, better-than-new Jeep Grand Wagoneers in the World ? They may have some answers.

It seems to me that a later model Wagoneer is far better than most vehicles that share the vintage of your AS. It should be adequate.

I own a CJ5 and was interested to read bobzdar's comment about tuning. While I have no idea how difficult it would be, dropping a new Dodge hemi, tranny, and running gear into the GW might be the way to go.
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Old 01-19-2016, 10:53 PM   #14
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I've had 3 Grand Wagoneers, a Hunter Green '91, and two gold ones. A '90 and '89. I've also met that guy from GrandWagoneers.com. A GW from him will likely put you in new SUV territory.

I sold them all when gas hit $2 a gallon because they only got about 12mpg on a good day. I never towed an Airstream, but I did tow a Hobie 16 and 18. The engine always seemed weak. It wasn't a good tow vehicle but it would look nice parked with an AS behind it.
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