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Old 04-26-2019, 03:37 PM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
Middleton , Wisconsin
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Towing with old cars

Hello all. New to the forum, and have a few questions.

I guess I should explain what I have, then ask.

I have a 76 Argosy 26, purchased completely trashed but with a good she'll and frame for 500$.

It's gutted now. I'm replacing the subfloor. The interior will be different. It will be lighter, I'm not sure how much yet. I have access to scales to measure side to side and tongue, and each axle separately.

I have a 72 Ranchero Cobra Jet. That's the tow vehicle. I'm pulling (and storing) the 351c 4v, and dropping in a 500 ish hp 460. I'll be installing a locker in the 9 inch, and converting to 4 wheel disks. I can change front and rear coils to adjust balance and ride height, and add bags to rear if needed. The Ranchero will be stock looking. C6 on the tree. No AC. No vacuum, cam probably too aggressive.

I will be full timing, between wisconsin (family, work) and Arizona (Dec through March).

I'm 46, single, I had my kids early they are grown.

I can make anything I want, I have free access (well, electric costs) to a full paint and mechanical shop. I have some skill at fabricating and wrenching, but there's always something new, so I sure don't know it all.

Any suggestions on making it a nice experience? I'm pretty well travelled, I have always lived in small spaces and travelled for work. But never in a TT, pulled by a musclecar.

I'm curious as to your thoughts, I don't personally know a TT fulltimer or I would ask them.

Thanks for any thoughts, or advice.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:46 PM   #2
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Hi, welcome and WOW!

Hereís my $0.02 - and I have no idea if this is accurate or not - but given your description of your experience and everything else you posted - Iím going to go out on a limb and say YOU GOT THIS! You seem to have all the right skills and experience - and the right attitude - to pull this off.

Keep in mind - I really know nothing. The only ďwrenchingĒ I do is to wrench money out of my wallet to pay people who actually have some skill. You seem to have it in spades and Iím quite confident with whatever insights you can glean from the group here - youíre going to create a fantastic rig. I hope youíll keep a thread on it in the forums so we can all watch along with your progress!

Now let some real pros step in and offer you something more meaningful than my cheerleading.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:52 PM   #3
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Towing with old cars

I think it will tow the car, but IMHO, you might what to tone down the cam with something that will give you good torque at a lower RPM. Iím sure there is something out there that will give you good performance. I would also rethink the air conditioning, but thatís just me. Get a good weight distribution hitch and put a class 3 or better hitch and receiver on the back. Oh, donít forget the brake controller too.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:57 PM   #4
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Lol. Thanks!

I'd be good with anything like "remove the interior skins and install such and such insulation if you want to live" or "you need to have x rear end gear with that C6".

I have pics of the before (shudder) and I'll get some pics of after, but that's going to be a while yet.

I've never towed a travel trailer, except this one, about 8 miles from where I pulled it out of a field with an explorer.

I'll listen to any towing advice, although to be honest, I don't see many rigs like mine on the road.

There may be reason...
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:04 PM   #5
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Well - again, Iím no pro. Those cars though (or car/truck hybrids like the Ranchero and El Camino) must have done some towing duty back in the day. Big v-8 sedans show up in lots of pics of trailer towing in that era.

The one piece of advice I can share from experience as you say youíve never towed - when your rig is complete, I highly recommend getting an RV Safe Driver training class. We got ours at the local CDL center. 2 weekend days, 80% of it spent going in reverse and well worth every penny. My wife parallel parked our 27í Airstream with our Chevy 3/4T diesel on the first attempt. Me? Well - letís say the class was helpful!

Good luck!
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:08 PM   #6
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Aerowood,

I'm thinking about the cam. The motor came out of a pulling truck set up with dual 460's, the tranny came apart and smacked the guy in the leg on a run, so I got the motor cheap. I was gonna just run it as is, but yeah, that cam. I'll do some research, see if I can stay around 475 hp, and maybe torque in the 400's at a reasonable rpm.

Air conditioning? I live a ... rugged... life, lol.

Spent this winter in an unheated machine shed, gutting the Argosy. I've spent considerable time in the ME, and Africa. I think I'm ok, but I am getting older.
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:14 PM   #7
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My biggest worry is the weight changes I'm making to the trailer. But this is the wrong place for that thread.
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:48 PM   #8
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automatic or manual transmission? I favor the auto. the disc brakes are hugely important. Mirrors are important. Nice if they extend enough to see down the sides of the trailer. Cooling the engine and auto transmission are a big deal when towing.

Tires and weight capacity are important. Having enough tongue weight on the trailer is important. It would be nice if you could get the trailer weighed so that you will know about what you are dealing with in terms of tongue weight and trailer weight.

Overall I think it will be a fine rig.
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:51 PM   #9
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Four words....

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Old 04-26-2019, 05:06 PM   #10
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The disc brake conversion is a must, but not in the budget yet.

C6 auto 3 speed on the tree, I prefer the auto for towing.

Bill, I can preposition all the interior parts (well, not the tanks) then move them around while on the scales. I'm hoping to stay around 500# tongue weight, the Ranchero should be ok with that.

Oh, the Ranchero has a factory tranny cooler, but I can install anything, there's a bunch of old trucks here, I can rob about anything I need.

I've never used a weight distribution hitch. I'll have to read up. Never installed a brake controller either, and that sounds like a good idea to have.
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:15 PM   #11
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I'm off work, so I'm gonna grab a beer and take some pics.
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:23 PM   #12
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The tow car
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:28 PM   #13
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The Argosy
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:30 PM   #14
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I see a long road ahead lol
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:41 PM   #15
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Here's an excerpt from a Ford brochure regarding towing capability of the 1972 Ranchero. With the proper equipment (transmission?, radiator?, oil cooler?, other?) the claims indicate towing capacity to 6000 pounds. The Argosy brochure indicates the weight of the 26 ft. is no greater than 4375 pounds but that's probably dry. Add your stuff, propane, water, etc. and it's likely under 6000.

For the entire Ford brochure you can find it HERE.

Seems reasonable to think it will work.

Be sure to check out posts and threads by Andrew T - he owns an Airstream dealer and has a long history of hitches on unusual vehicles. You can also locate him via the company web site at www.canamrv.ca

Regardless of the hitch you install, the long overhang (distance from rear axle to bumper) is working against you.

This is going to be one very interesting set-up. Be sure to check out Tin Can Tourists - an RV organization that has lots of cool old RV's, many of them towed by vintage vehicles. Anyone is welcome at TCT events, vintage or not, but you'd be a crowd pleaser for sure!

We have a 1966 El Camino and you're making me envious! Guess we gotta get a small trailer to tow around.
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Old 04-26-2019, 05:48 PM   #16
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I believe the 6000# was with a 375/350 thunderjet 429. (There's one outside, I didn't want to use it.)

I have been worried about bouncing. I'll slap in bags if need be. Hell, I'll drop the body on a 72 Ford 3/4 to 4x4 frame if I have to.but then I'll have to lower it lol.
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:20 PM   #17
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You have a lot of research to do. Weight distribution hitch is a must, but may be mostly sway control. The linkage and sway control keeps the rig in line and reduces the potential for jacknife.

Ranchero has a lengthy rear overhang. That is likely more of a problem than the trailer tongue weight. Initial issue is to install a hitch that spreads load into the chassis. Do not just bolt one on where you can access attachment points.

The heavy cast iron engine will help to front load the chassis but it also makes for a lot of moment (push) in the front end. Look seriously at what the Nascar guys did to improve suspension and chassis rigidity for improved handling. Note they have tube reinforced frames that are quite rigid. Hope it has some aluminum heads to help with the weight bias.

You may want to upsize the wheels and move to lower profile SUV style tires. The short area of cargo space in front of the rear axle is another problem that will limit your gear capacity. The more stuff you store behind the axle, the more weight distribution needs to be considered. Light stuff at the back will help.

Engine - a puller is built for short high speed runs at maximum output. That is not exactly what you want for towing. You want hours of trouble free cruising with the ability to pull smoothly from a stop, roll grades at speed and gear down for the downslopes. What you have should work great if it was well spec'ed and assembled. Recommed you check the components for clearnaces, balance, and stress riser removal. A conversation with a good engine builder should help a lot. The fuel delivery should provide smooth application of power. A 400/400 package would be perfect.

Transmission - C6 should be capable, but ..... you want some ecconomics when cruising. You should have great torque to move from rest. So, maybe consider going with higher speed - lower numeric ratio rear gearing. Maybe something around 3:1. A two speed would be nice. You might look at the later model transmissions with 5-6 ratios that include overdrive, but the simplicity of the C6 has a lot going for it.

This is a really interesting project. The reuse/repurpose of existing performance components to make a reliable and fun tow vehicle is quite engaging. But then I have significant interest in older tow vehicles and cars specifically. My guess is that older folks will have some great input and ideas that will keep your shade tree blooming.

Good luck with your project. Keep the posts on updates comming. Pat

PS - Leave the truck chassis in the yard. You can do better and bags are not the answer.
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:54 PM   #18
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Thanks Pat.

I'm fairly limited financially. I mean, I work, I do ok, but I can't drop large bills. So I have to do it peicemeal, and with what I can hustle up.

Just when I thought I had a big project going, I see a guy here cut down a 29 footer to 10 feet! 0.o
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:58 PM   #19
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I pull my 25ft with a stock 460, C6, Ford 9 inch with 2.75 gears and a good AC in a 1/2 ton truck. It has no trouble doing the job and never had given me any trouble.
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Old 04-26-2019, 07:33 PM   #20
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Perfect. I was hoping someone had a setup close to mine.
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