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Old 02-27-2003, 08:37 AM   #1
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speaking of towing with a car...

how/where would I find tow ratings for older vehicles? My in-laws are keen on the idea of borrowing my trailer, but I don't think their car is up to the task, and I don't want 'em taking off w/ my truck as well. They have an '85 Buick Regal. I bet something w/ a V-8 from that era might be do-able, but we should have some "facts" before persuing this.

They don't want a "truck". They're boxy sedan types. They do live in FL, where there is an abundance of older cars in decent shape....(remember when they made cars out of metal? ). What do you think would be a good choice in an older, cheap sedan that can pull a 4000lb+ trailer safely?
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Old 02-27-2003, 08:46 AM   #2
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I don't think it would be a bright idea despite the Intrepid post. My 59 22' was more than a 95 E150 full size van was happy with. Your camper probably out wieghs mine by several hundred pounds. I'm pretty sure a 85 Regal was a front drive with a 3.8 liter motor. Does a fin job moving the car but not sure it's up to moving the camper. If I'm thinking of the right body sytle it's a Unit body vehicle and I'm not sure your going to find a hitch even close to the weight rating.
Tell them to get a 90's Buick Roadmaster. Those would do fine. Most had a LT1 tune port motor with great HP and Torgue ratings. Full frame as well so a lot better tow platform without being a truck.
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:02 AM   #3
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The Buick or similar bodied car, not sure of the GM letter designation, would be a good choice. They don't make them anymore. I have seen a lot of Buick Roadmaster wagons for sale, cheap too! Less than 7500 bucks but they are getting old and have a few miles on them. I am not sure of the actual tow ratings on them as Detroit has been monkeying around with the numbers a bit.

An even better recommendation is tell them to get their own A/S, unless you really, really trust them!! Lending out my A/S would be kinda like lending out my wife, doubt if it will ever happen. Almost the same as a buddy who always wants to "borrow" my boat, won't happen!!

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Old 02-27-2003, 09:48 AM   #4
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Well, its either they borrow my trailer, or they stay at my house!! Which would you choose? (remember, you don't know my in-laws. did you ever watch "Seinfeld"? think "george constanza's parents". no joke.).

Chas, I'm pretty sure that theirs is a rear-drive, full frame model. not unibody. I know it is only a v-6, though, so I'm guessing that it wouldn't be quite up to the task. Don't know what its exact displacement is.... the POs of my trailer used an older Crown Victoria to tow it for some time.

again, I'll just re-state my other question: is there a central repository for tow-rating info? I know "trailer life" publishes tow ratings for very recent vehicles...how about older ones?
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Old 02-27-2003, 10:04 AM   #5
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I'm pretty sure a 85 Regal was a front drive with a 3.8 liter motor. Does a fin job moving the car but not sure it's up to moving the camper.
A 3.8 toured across the Continent and dragged a 31 footer to the top of Independance Pass (12,000'). By comparison you would think it could tow a 23' and not even know it was there. If a V8 is a must how about a 90's Impala SS.
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Old 02-27-2003, 10:44 AM   #6
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This 1986, 3.8 toured across the Continent and dragged a 31 footer to the top of Independance Pass (12,000'). By comparison you would think it could tow a 23' and not even know it was there. If a V8 is a must how about a 90's Impala SS.
Impalla SS, Roadmaster, Caprice in the early 90's are all essetially the same car. The SS got the LT1 performace version. The Caprice got a varaity of engines and could for the most part be ordered as a SS without SS badging and paint and the motor a little detuned. Same with the Roadmasters. For some reasons the Buicks more often then not did get the Tunedport LT1 that was a little detuned like the Caprice. They don't call it GENERAL motors for nothing LOL Lots of badge enginering. The problem with the SS is the Tranny. GM put a high stall converter in those cars. Great for performance but that makes heat and towing may lower the life expecatancy of the transmission.
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Old 02-27-2003, 12:10 PM   #7
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Toaster.. I was not aware of the hipo stall converter on the Impala SS. You would be right about the heat concern. On the other hand would the higher stall converter be an advantage for towing since it would get the engine up into its power range at launch time?? I saw a road report on the big Buick Roadmaster Wagon a few years ago when they came out. Their overall thoughts were " a sofa on wheels". For towing they have a hugh over hang and my guess would be boring rear end gears. You are probably right about options though. Maybe GM offered a trailer pkg or performance pkg that spruced it up.

My buddy across the street here works for GM. He pulls his cigarette boat ( powered by twin big block Chevy motors) with a 1984 GMC dually short box pickup. We live over 2 miles from the lake and can clearly hear him from our house when he runs flat out on Lake Ontario

Anyway we get into some great discussions on towing with the various formatts. Everytime we pull out of our driveway with the Safari in tow he scratches his head, still can't figure out how it all works. LOL LOL
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Old 02-27-2003, 01:57 PM   #8
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Toaster.. I was not aware of the hipo stall converter on the Impala SS. You would be right about the heat concern. On the other hand would the higher stall converter be an advantage for towing since it would get the engine up into its power range at launch time?? I saw a road report on the big Buick Roadmaster Wagon a few years ago when they came out. Their overall thoughts were " a sofa on wheels". For towing they have a hugh over hang and my guess would be boring rear end gears. You are probably right about options though. Maybe GM offered a trailer pkg or performance pkg that spruced it up.

My buddy across the street here works for GM. He pulls his cigarette boat ( powered by twin big block Chevy motors) with a 1984 GMC dually short box pickup. We live over 2 miles from the lake and can clearly hear him from our house when he runs flat out on Lake Ontario

Anyway we get into some great discussions on towing with the various formatts. Everytime we pull out of our driveway with the Safari in tow he scratches his head, still can't figure out how it all works. LOL LOL
Yeah the stall will help it get moving is true but once it's moving is the issue. The extra slip is going to make short work of the fluid. I supose you could run a pair of tranny coolers to over come it. So the pros and cons to the high stall converter could go either way.
Yeah it has a long overhang but wouldn't some of that be negated by the low center of gravity?
As far as the overhang goes....Well sometimes it's something you have to live with. THe ideal location for the ball of the hitch would be within a foot of the rear axle. Short of a fifth wheel that's not going to happen.
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Old 02-27-2003, 04:26 PM   #9
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speaking of towing with a car...

Greetings Chuck!

My advice would be don't consider trying the '85 Regal/TradeWind combo. I had a very similar Pontiac "G" Series Bonneville which rode on the same chasis with a 4.2 liter carbureted V6. The car was special ordered for towing and supposedly had the highest rated tow package for a V6 at 3,000 pounds. With the optional V8 (California only for the Pontiac at that time) the tow rating was upped to 5,000 pounds. When I had my Bonneville, I was towing an 18 foot Nomad (single axle) light-weight special travel trailer that weighed 3,000 pounds on its best day or closer to 3,800 pounds loaded for a typical vacation. The Pontiac was unable to exceed 45 MPH on even the flattest of highways unless given 10 or 20 MILES to build speed.

I would even be a bit leary of trying this with my '85 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Brougham Luxury Sedan. It was special ordered with the heavy duty trailering package rated at 5,000 pounds. The package included the 5.0 Liter (307 cubic inch Oldsmobile HO V8) and 3.23 differential gears. For towing in flat areas lacking severe grades, it would probably work; but on grades I would question the adequacy of the available power.

When I was researching tow vehicles for my Overlander four years ago, I wanted a car rather than a truck based tow vehicle. What I learned was that the highest trailer tow rating for fairly recent manufactured cars was the Cadillac Brougham d'Elegance with the 5.7 Liter V8, fuel injection and heavy duty factory trailer package - - I believe when equipped with this package its trailer tow rating was 7,000 pounds (varied a little from year to year) and these cars were available from 1988(?) through 1995(?) - - I don't have my notes close at hand but I believe the above range to be fairly close. The Buick Roadmaster also shared similar trailer tow ratings during part of that same time period, again if it was equipped with the heavy duty factory tow package and 5.7 Liter V8. My research indicated that Chevrolet did not recommend the Impala SS for towing any more than 2,500 pounds; while the Caprice was rated up to 5,000 pounds with 5.0 Liter (305 cubic inch Chevrolet V8) - - I was never able to get a consistent answer about the Caprice and towing with an optional 5.7 Liter V8. I finally gave up on the idea of a modern car as a tow vehicle as I wanted at least 20% excess towing capacity which for my Overlander translated to a trailer tow rating of 7,800 pounds.

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Old 02-27-2003, 07:06 PM   #10
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Overhang

Aside from the leverage it gives sway over the tow vehicle, longer overhang is a GOOD thing. It's one of the things that make travel trailers superior to fivers.

Know what the major complaint of new fiver owners is? How slowly it turns when backing. A behind the bumper pivot is MUCH more responsive to steering and makes the trailer turn sharper and quicker with less effort.

And the longer the overhang, the closer the trailer wheels follow the tow vehicle wheels in a turn, so you don't have to swing as wide to keep the trailer wheels from hitting the curb.

This is where a Hensley has a good advantage. The Hensley both eliminates sway AND increases the overhang significantly.

If you want a trailer to pivot near the rear axle, get a Pullrite hitch... and have the slower steering of a fiver when backing AND a trailer that follows the tow vehicle much more to the inside of the turn.

BTW, while fiver owners are quick to point out their in-bed hitch eliminates the mechanical arm in the yaw (sway) plane, they're also quick to ignore the leverage the highly mounted pivot gives the fiver to roll the truck side to side (a dually helps here) and pitch it fore and aft.
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Old 02-27-2003, 08:45 PM   #11
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Roadking:
That makes very good sense. I have been doing a lot of reading here and a lot of people refference some of the magazines road tests. Most indicate the long over hang is problematic according to those write ups. Is that just in reguards to the "see saw" effect over bad roads? I can understand where the extra distance would give the trailer more leverage over the tow vehicle. I guess it's a little bit of give and take.

Well you have made me feel better about the Tow vehicle I'm looking for. I'm trying to locate a 89-91 Suburban. Other posts on the subject had me concerned that I was not going to be happy with it. The burb just has the other things I need. This will end up being my daily driver. I need something that when I'm off on my own that can double as a one person camper (I'm over the tents LOL). I Need something that is going to have enough room to make everybody happy on long trips. I do plan some out west runs to CO and AZ. Having two kids in close contact that long only leads to them fighting.

Well I plan to get a 3/4 ton burb for two major reasons. The first is astetics. I like a truck that sits up a little. I'm looking for a 2wd and the 3/4 ton 2wd sits close to the same hight as a 4wd. The half ton 2wd burbs of that vintage just seem to sit on the ground. The other and more important reason is to get away from the Corp 10 bolt rear end. I know far to many people who have had them fail. The 14 bolt is a much stronger rear axle and for what I plan to do with this truck it's the natural choice.

If the see saw effect becomes a problem thing I can play around with the spring rates on the rear axle. Pull a couple leafes out to soften it up and then install a set of Firestone air springs so I can adjust the spring rates as conditions warrent. I think that in certain cases having a softer rear suspension may help over come some of these issue when coupled with a weight distribution hitch. That would let the rear axle float more between the front axle of the tow vehicle and the trailer axle. The other option this would open up is I could increase the spring rate with just some added air pressure and run without the bars and keep the ride hight correct, Still use a friction style sway contron as well. See what sort of results that provides.
That set up would also let me dump the rear presssure so that the truck would sag and raise the rear of the trailer. Helpful if I get into a situation where I may drag the rear of the trailer. Being able to drop the tounge hight 6-7 inches would raise the rear of the trailer a simular amount. I guess time will tell.
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:02 PM   #12
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Over the years, a large number of Airstreams have been pulled by Suburbans and the 3/4 ton is definitely the better choice. However, with the shorter wheelbase for the good overhang, it's not that sway resistant without a Hensley or Pullrite.

The closer you load the heavy stuff in the trailer toward the axles, the less see-saw effect you get. I'd think running a full fresh tank would help too, especially if its between the axles.
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:21 PM   #13
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Over the years, a large number of Airstreams have been pulled by Suburbans and the 3/4 ton is definitely the better choice. However, with the shorter wheelbase for the good overhang, it's not that sway resistant without a Hensley or Pullrite.

The closer you load the heavy stuff in the trailer toward the axles, the less see-saw effect you get. I'd think running a full fresh tank would help too, especially if its between the axles.
My tank is right up against the front wall as far forward as it can go. If the wife is with me that tanks will have to stay full for her coffee especially if we go to Florida. Water is horrible there LOL. When we rent beach houses down there we bring about 6 -8 gallons of water with us strictly for Coffee LOL. I'll just make sure to keep the black water tank empty and maybe the water heater. both are in the rear.
What do you think of the dual cam Reese? Reason I ask is I have some of the parts already. This would also let me run a standard friction sway for the car trailer I plan to purchace in the future. Then I wouldn't have to mess with the cam set up but still use the draw bar and torsion bars on the second trailer.
I still have as yet to see this Hensley or pull right. Lots of folks speak highly of them.
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Old 02-27-2003, 09:31 PM   #14
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The dual-cam isn't really close to a Hensley or Pullrite, but if I could have neither of those, I'd go for the dual-cam over all the others.
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