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Old 04-06-2013, 08:34 PM   #1
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Towing with a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser

My son is thinking of mowing his 68 25' Tradewinds with a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser. The vehicle is equipped with a 350 4 barrel engine with a 3.23 rear end. Any comments regarding this combination would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:42 PM   #2
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If you look at most of the Airstream ads from the 60's, big honking station wagons were the tow vehicles of choice. He might want to consult with Can-am RV, they are the master of this type of set-up.

I think a beefier hitch receiver, rear air bags and things like that may be in your future but Can-Am will be able to spell it out.

Mike
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:58 PM   #3
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Be sure he adds a transmission cooler, and if the engine doesnt have hardened valve and valve seats to use a lead additive their lubrication at every other fuel stop. Using a Class III or IV hitch receiver (if it doesnt have one, a good welding shop who knows the "old ways" of hitch fabrication)
Also we found with our '69 Caddy equipped with coil springs, a Reese Dual Cam load levelling system will give the car/trailer good handling. Friction plate sway control would twist our Cadillac on its coil springs and would take few 100 yards for car and trailerr to get straight again after a turn. We also added a rear set of air shocks not to level the combo, but to level the car before we hitch up after loading the rear of the car with water hoses, lawn chairs, camp stove, etc. When the combo is set up would love to see a photo.
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Old 04-07-2013, 06:33 AM   #4
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Towing puts more of a strain on a vehicle than quarter-mile racing. So expect that any weak points will be found. Water pump failure, vapor lock, electrical gremlins were all to be experienced "back in the day". Electrical will be the most problematic on a near half-century old car. A new engine bay harness[es] would be a very good idea.

One of the most irritating was that carburetors were adjusted for low altitude operation (or the dealer checked off a box on a factory order for "high altitude" tuning). I would recommend an aftermarket TBI (such as HOWELL) that will also make for easier starts, lower oil consumption and overall better mpg. Greater reliability.

CAN AM RV for plans for a hitch receiver (unless you can find copies of OLDSMOBILE hitch plans somewhere; they were always "built" back then).

A REESE Dual Cam hitch as the minimum.

And a very good road service plan.

.
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:30 PM   #5
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Towing with a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser

Greetings 48tucker!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 48tucker View Post
My son is thinking of mowing his 68 25' Tradewinds with a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser. The vehicle is equipped with a 350 4 barrel engine with a 3.23 rear end. Any comments regarding this combination would be appreciated. Thanks.
I believe that the '68 Tradewind would be within the trailer towing capacities of a 1970 Olds Vista Cruiser equipped as mentioned, but that is with a few considerations:
  • It would be wise to verify whether the motor's valve seats are hardened for use of un-leaded fuels. This car was produced around the time that GM began installing hardened valve seats on their motors . . . but I am not sure just when the change happened (1970-1972). The strain placed upon a motor when towing without hardened valve seats can quickly result in valve seat recission . . . something I learned the hard way with my '65 Dodge 383 V8.
  • The transmission should be fully serviced prior to beginning to tow including the installation of a supplementary external transmission fluid cooler. This is particularly important if the transmission is a Turbohydramatic 350 rather than the stronger 400.
  • My suggestion would be to have the cooling system thoroughly flushed as well as boiling out the radiator if it is unknown how long it has been since it was last serviced.
  • Brakes are another area that I would suggest checking, particularly any rubber hoses as they can degrade from the inside while looking acceptable on the surface (I just had one fail on my 1985 Oldsmobile that I have owned since new).
  • Weak springs and/or shocks will negatively impact towing performace so they should be checked as well. The last time that I checked, Cargo-Coil offered rear springs for the 1970 Vista Cruiser, and the front springs are available as reproduction from several sources that handle Oldsmobile Cutlass parts.
I thoroughly enjoy towing my Airstream and Argosy with my 1975 Cadillac, but it is more maintenance intensive than my modern Suburban. One of the considerations with the 1970 Vista Cruiser is that it was considered a mid-sized car and the Tradewind would have been among the largest trailers recommended for it via GM's trailer towing guidelines.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:47 PM   #6
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Was thinking more on this today. Sadly, whitewall tires have disappeared from standard tire store stock. COKER and some others may have them. I'd inquire far and wide as to their quality if this is what one might use. $$$$, and may not be up to the task.
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by slowmover View Post
Was thinking more on this today. Sadly, whitewall tires have disappeared from standard tire store stock. COKER and some others may have them. I'd inquire far and wide as to their quality if this is what one might use. $$$$, and may not be up to the task.
Yeah, but you can buy Goodyear MTRs...GY decided that their phenomenal off-road tire should be redesigned with Raised White Lettering. Uh, ever think maybe rock rash will smear that pretty white lettering Mr. Tire Engineer? Oh, and theyre directional tread, so ya can't turn them around. I just wanted to rant a little.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:09 PM   #8
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So whatever happened to blackwall paint? I haven't bought any in nearly forty years, but it was handy for when one mounted tires with the whitewalls turned inwards (on the two new tires, a real deal!!) so they'd match the blackwalls already on the car.
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Hensley Arrow. 9-cpm solo, 15-cpm towing
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:23 PM   #9
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So whatever happened to blackwall paint? I haven't bought any in nearly forty years, but it was handy for when one mounted tires with the whitewalls turned inwards (on the two new tires, a real deal!!) so they'd match the blackwalls already on the car.
Funny you mentioned that. When I bought the last set of MTRs, I went on a hunt for BW paint...no one, not even Firestone knew what ai was talking about. Am I really that old? I'm only 46! I ended up using spray paint.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:19 PM   #10
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MILLER Black Tire Paint/Stain

.
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1990 35' Silver Streak Sterling; 9k GVWR.
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Hensley Arrow. 9-cpm solo, 15-cpm towing
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:34 PM   #11
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Thanks for the link...yeah, I found it online when I last looked for it.

But the point is that you used to find that at EVERY tire shop and mechanics shop coast to coast. One more piece of Americana and service disappearing.
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