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Old 12-08-2010, 02:43 PM   #1
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1975 31' Excella 500
undetermined , Washington
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Towing, opinions on truck

Ok, so I'm thinking about towing Alma from Washington to Colorado. Are there any suggestions for how to figure out if my truck will tow the trailer? The pickup is a 350 V8 Chevy but it's old, 1994 and an automatic. I know technically it should be fine but is there something a mechanic could to to check out the engine or something? There are a few pretty monster passes between WA and CO and the last time I was going over the Continental Divide in Montana there was an RV about half way up blowing black smoke like you've never seen would bum me out if that was me.

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Old 12-08-2010, 03:51 PM   #2
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A good tune up and have them do a compression check,give you an idea of what shape the engine is in,They can also put an exhaust test on it,nothing like a plugged converter to ruin your trip.Transmission service with a cooler.Dual exhaust with a good set of mufflers [I like Flowmasters],would help with the H.P.. Good luck on your trip. Dave

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Old 12-08-2010, 04:10 PM   #3
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I think if you have good tires and brakes on tow vehicle and trailer, go easy and use 2nd and 3rd gear as they were designed to be used you should be okay. Try to use the Interstates as much as possible as they are modern roads that were intentionally designed and built with the minimum grades feasible (at anything like a reasonable cost).

Some Federal Highways get right exciting when it comes to grades and many state roads do.

Remember that going up, pretty much the worst thing that happens is you end up in the granny lane in 2nd gear going 30. Coming down is when you can bend, fold and mutilate things - go easy, remember you can apply the trailer brakes manually and pull over and let everything cool down if you smell hot brakes.

In everyday driving, most of us are a hundred feet ahead of the vehicle, with your 31' bolted to the back you need to be as far ahead as you can see...

First rule: enjoy the journey.

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Old 12-08-2010, 04:27 PM   #4
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1975 31' Excella 500
undetermined , Washington
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That's one thing I'd have to get used to, I never use the low gears in automatics. But honestly I imagine the granny lane in second gear going 15 would probably be more acurate I know the radiator has a cooler attached to it, will talk to the mechanics about transmission coolant, never would've thought of that. You guys are awesome
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Old 12-08-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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Grand Island , Nebraska
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For two seasons I pulled my 34' Limited with a truck identical to yours. As you can see, I live in Idaho and I pulled in the mountains (Jackson, etc.) of Wyoming as I journeyed east to see family. My truck had about 170,000 on it at the time. I had an auxiliary transmission cooler installed and highly recommend the same for you. Mike's advice on using the lower positions on your gearshift is also good advice.

You don't say where you live in Washington or what part of Colorado you're headed for, so I can't comment accurately on getting there, but once you hit I-84 in Idaho you can drive to Denver and south without much mountain driving. Following I-84 and I-80 you have some mountains to go through in Utah but there is not much in the way of what I'd call mountain driving. Wyoming is high desert country (you cross the Continental Divide twice, but it is only about 7,000' elevation). The biggest problem on I-80 across Wyoming is the strong winds and if it is snowing it gets pretty bad in a hurry, so be careful to keep updated on conditions. Also, it is a long way between towns along I-80 so plan accordingly.

By the way, my truck pulled the trailer without trouble, but it had all it could do in the mountains, so great patience is called for! Some hills took me down to 20 mph. My truck had a 3.73 gear in the differential. I'm not sure I'd want to tackle the mountains with anything higher than that.

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Old 12-10-2010, 07:31 PM   #6
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You did not say what size your trailer is? I pulled a 25' Excella with a small block ford150 for a couple years and several thousand miles with no problems. Your biggest problem might be going downhill. Start slow down. Try not to catch the trailer brakes on fire. Transmission cooler, brake controler, wiring. Check radiator, cooling. Watch the gauges. You will have enough power.
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:18 AM   #7
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1975 31' Excella 500
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It's 31' but I'm going to try to find someone else to tow it,the more I've been thinking about....eek
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Old 12-20-2010, 06:24 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by genearnold View Post
you have some mountains to go through in Utah but there is not much in the way of what I'd call mountain driving.
My Brother - as one who has driven east to west and west to east (with stops both times in my beloved Steamboat Springs) Utah has some mighty "Ups & Downs" - more so then heading out of Denver and over the Rockies in my opinion....
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Old 12-20-2010, 09:00 PM   #9
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The route via Yakima/Kennewick/Boise/SLC then east to Cheyenne and south on 25 is the one I would trip plan. Agreed on Wyoming winds. You can also look up altitude changes, and there is likely a map showing grades as a cross section, somewhere.

Truck drivers use 50-mph as a way of calculating travel times. I recommend it. In fact I would use 47-48 mph as a more accurate way of planning stops included in that travel time. Estimate fuel consumption as high (8-mpg), and keep the need to get out of the truck every two hours to stretch and inspect rig as a given. Do some number crunching, and have stop names/exit numbers to hand before setting out. ("126 miles to Big Joes Truck Stop at Exit #346" at 2'17" travel time [58 mph]. Then, the next. And the next).

Use GAISMA to determine civil dawn and twilight for departure and arrival times. Leave early -- just a little -- but be off the road well before dark. Days are only about 9.5-hours this time of year that far north (we have more time 2,000 miles away, and south), so don't give up any margins considering weather, traffic and the rest. And one loses an hour in transit due to time zone.

Daily travel times may be short and prep is all about what is done the day before (rig, fuel, food, clothing, etc).


Google sez 25-hours for 1,577-miles at 63 mph. I would say -- more reasonably -- 34-hours when stops are included (47 mph). Call it three nights on the road or 450 mile/day average. One may do better, but it is not the point with [1] an old truck [2] a trailer [3] and an easier return trip. I would give myself a week for the roundtrip, and re-calculate once at Cheyenne on the outbound leg.

3,200-miles in a week is a LOT of miles. Even for a professional driver. Winters onset only makes it more important to plan each day in advance.

Good mirrors are everything. Have truck rear brakes adjusted, and keep all glass spotless at EVERY stop! Start today with all new signal and head lamps on truck & trailer. A heavy duty flasher. Read up on hitch rigging and find a weight scale to dial it in. Tires, etc. Read around.

Good luck

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Old 12-20-2010, 11:51 PM   #10
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1975 31' Excella 500
undetermined , Washington
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Posts: 125
Thanks for th input 3200 is a lot of miles for a week, it takes me six days to drive across the country (about the same milage), but it's gonna be a one way trip, if I ever figure out how to make it. I am thinking that based on the map I like the looks of going dropping down to I-80 instead of I-90.
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Old 01-23-2011, 07:28 AM   #11
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1958 18' "Footer"
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I don't know if you have left yet but here goes anyway. Check your tires and wheel bearings often, feel the hubs of the trailer with every stop. Take your time. People towed trailers like these with passenger cars at one time. Your truck is much heavier duty in every regard. Pushing the speed is the most stressing factor on everything and increases the risk if something does happen. Get towing insurance and enjoy the trip. It isn't that far. You'd drive 5,000 miles around home without considering it a feat of daring. Highway miles are much easier on the vehicle. The most important thing is to make sure the fluids and grease are up to par. Then just get on the road and let the truck and yourself enjoy the road.

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