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Old 04-16-2003, 09:13 PM   #1
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Talking Towing

We have a 1962 24' Trade Wind which we intend to pull with a 1955 Ford Ranch Wagon (two door). Has anyone experienced any problems towing with an older car? Anything we should be prepared for or need? We are having a custom hitch made, electronic braking system installed along with a weight distribution hitch for the trailer. Anything else? We're new to all this but really looking forward to making memories for our two little girls! Any help will be greatly appreciated! ~melissa

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Old 04-16-2003, 09:56 PM   #2
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The big thing I would make sure of is that the cooling system is in tip top shape. You might even want to install a electric pusher fan to aid cooling at low speeds. If the car has a clutched fan make sure it is working correctly. If in doubt spend the $35 for a new clutch.

My big reason for pointing out adding an electric is the manufactures were not quite as concerned with fan performance as they are now. Often older vehicles do not have a decently designed shroude. A Fan shoude can tripple a fans effecency over just spinning in an open area. When they are open the air around the edges will just circulate back into the front of the fan instead of pulling it through the radiator.

If the vehicle has a Auto transmission, add a AUX tranny cooler. I personally like "Stack Plate" coolers. They are more efficent for their size. Pep Boys Carries Hayden brand Coolers and they have this style usualy in stock. Heat is the big killer for trannies and I really feel you can't go wrong with the largest cooler that would fit if your in a moderate climate. It adds YEARS to the life of a transmission. In a area where you deal with long cold spells you can add a thremostaic control valve that will by pass the AUX cooler and maintain some temperature in the transmission. You want to run between 150 and 180 degrees. This will cause any condinsation that has formed in the case to become vapor and purge out the transmission vent.

There are also oil coolers available for the engine. Most modern vehicles with high tow capacity have these. They also have tranny temp gages. I like adding these to my trucks. Lets me know if the transmission is suffering before it fails. I can always slow down if I see the temp raising and avoid damage. I also add Temp gages to my vehciles when all they have is idiot lights. The lights generally come on when you having a problem not before it becomes a problem.

The magic number where transmission damge can start is 200deegrees. At that temp the seals are baking and becoming hard. THis cuases them to loose their sealing ability. Once they start leaking the internal line pressure drops and the clutches can start to slip. Once that happens it's all over and you have to rebuild.

The camper charges off the pull vehicle when traveling down the road. You might concider upgrading to a more powerful alternator. Older cars often only had 40 amp or so out put. With the extra load you could actually get caught in traffic in the evening when you need the lights and creeping along run the battery dead. I would make sure you have a minimum of 65amp output. Thats a pretty common output these days. Your Charging two batteires and running at least double the lighting and you can quickly pull more then a 40 amp alternator can produce at low RPM's

Axle gearing is the "make or break" you department. Find out what you have. A 3.73 gear puts less stress on the drivetrain then a 3.08 gear. This extra stress can cause excessive heat in Auto tranny's or cause you to have to slip the clutch a lot if it's a manual. The higher the number the lower the gear the easier the engine will be able to pull. You have to ballance this with the tire size, Transmission finnal drive and Engine capabilities. Most V8s you want to run a maximum of 3000RPM at cruise. 2500 RPM would be better on the hwy for economy. With today's 70mph speed limits this puts vehciles without over drive at a disadvantage.

My Suburban for example does not have over drive and has a 3.73 gear. I run a tire that is roughly 31.5 inches tall. At 65mph I'm at about 2800 RPM. That's pretty well as fast as I go in that truck EVER. Course I'm right in my "power band" and it will easlily haul 9,000 pounds of trailer at that speed without out a lot of strain to do it. Now I have a 454 with 385pound feet of torque so I can get away with that. A vehicle with a less powerfull engine would need 4.10 gear ratio to handle that sort of load. The problem is they are turning proably 3,000 rpm at 60MPH.

A 62 TW is a relativly light trailer. Take it easy, get a good hitch system with sway control and you should be fine with a couple cooling upgrades and confirming your gear ratio.

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Old 04-16-2003, 10:10 PM   #3
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Greetings Melissa!

You didn't mention whether the drivetrain is original or modified. If you are running the original motor, the unleaded fuels will likely cause you trouble. I know that was my biggest headache with my '65 Dodge Coronet 500. The original valve seats were not harderened, and the change in the burning characteristics of the unleaded fuel caused the valve seats to recede. The result was a very expensive valve job including specially harderened valve seat inserts - - nearly $2,000 for the 383 cubic inch V8 in 1980.

Another concern would include the radiator. On both of my Vintage tow vehicles, I have resorted to installing custom heavy duty radiators to insure proper cooling - - in both cases the radiators have been custome built 4-row cores with approximately 30% additional cooling capacity. It worked out beautifully with my '65 Dodge Coronet, but it remains to be seen with the Cadillac as its first run with the Minuet won't be until sometime next month. I know not all Ford automatics of the time period of your Ranch Wagon had radiator mounted coolers, but if the transmission supports this; a transmission fluid cooler would undoubtedly be a wise investment.

This may have been a fluke, but with both of my Vintage tow vehicles one of the first issues was with the brakes. In each case the first time with the trailer caused a wheel cylinder to blow out on the Dodge and a brake line to rupture on the Cadillac.

Depending on the length of your trips, you will likely find as I have that a spare parts box helps tremendously. My Cadillac's spare parts box includes two ignition modules, a distributor cap, a set of sparkplugs, a remanufactured carburetor, a pair of calipers for the front brakes, front brake pads, an ignition coil, a set of spark plug wires, a spare NOS fuel pump, a remanufactured water pump, a NORS thermostat, a complete set of fan belts, a complete set of radiator hoses, a PCV valve, an EGR valve, NORS turn signal flasher, set of replacement fuses, sealed beam units for headlights, and replacement bulbs for all exterior lights. In addition, I carry both a factory parts book and service manual for the car so that they will be available in an emergency.

Towing with complimentary Vintage tow vehicle and trailer can be a fantastic experience. It can, however, take a while to work some of the bugs out. I am sure that you will enjoy your combination, just be prepared for a few teething problems as the two vehicles get acquainted.

Good luck with getting your rig sorted out.

Kevin D. Allen
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Old 04-17-2003, 03:07 PM   #4
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What engine and transmission? Where (mountains, flat) do you intend to tow? How long a distance?

Brakes I would totally rebuild. Brake fluid absorbs water; 50 year old cast iron, seals and steel tube are not what I would want to trust to stop in an emergency. The 4 drums are marginal compared to current disc or disc/drum setups. Brake fade is a fact on these. Use a good Ford Dot 3 brake fluid.

The old electrical systems were very low power power compared to today's power hungry vehicles, so the generators were not very robust. Check the brushes and armature on the generator, and the voltage regulator. I would also thoroughly check the wiring, this is probably the old cloth covered rubber wire and it is past it's life expectancy. You will be charging an extra battery and running brakes that were not taken into consideration when the charging system was designed.

Cooling will definitely be taxed. Pressure test the system, replace the hoses (and belts) if not already done. Anything you can do to upgrade the system will definitely help.

Lube the chassis and pay attention to everything as you do. There are dozens of fittings on these. If a zerk won't take grease, find out why. Check for play everywhere.

If you and/or your husband won't do the repairs, get a good line on shops along the way capable of working on these before you leave. A lot of today's mechanics probably have no experience with a vehicle this old. They are pretty simple but it is totally different troubleshooting this and one with modern electronics. As Kevin said, I would also carry as many spares as possible, old parts can get hard to find and won't be stock items.

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Old 04-18-2003, 10:32 PM   #5
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Towing with a classic station wagon

I would like to inquire if it is feasible to tow my '32 unit (8500 lbs gross) with a classic station wagon. Meaning late 60's to 1970-1972, right before their engines lost power due to emission regulations.

I like Chrysler products. I don't want something as big as the 440 engine but was thinking about the 383 engine. In a 1970 Chrysler Town and Country or Dodge Polara or Plymouth Satellite.

My questions are, would something like that be adequate for towing a unit of that size and weight? I know the power and the torque would be there with the 383 (6.1L) but would the suspension handle it? What about 727 tranny and 3.23 posi? Is that a low enough rear end?
Could that combo actually get 15-16 MPG on the highway? I know I got 15 with the 318 (5.2L) engine but it is smaller than the 383 and the car was lighter (B-body vs. C-body). I am not concerned about towing mileage.

My main reason for wanting a station wagon is because I like station wagons. In fact I already have one but it is a newer GM with a small block V8 and I doubt it can handle anything greater than 4-5k lbs. The other reason is, I love antique vehicles with carburators and AM-only radios and big seats and their style. The real reason is, I want a multi-purpose vehicle which will be used for daily driving 90% of the time and towing the rest of the time. I know these old Mopars are not known for best handling but I had no problems when I had mine. They certainly handle better than a truck.

My truck is a most excellent towing vehicle but it doesn't do anything else really good. I just park it until I need to tow.
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Old 04-19-2003, 09:51 AM   #6
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Keep the truck,use it for towing, get a classic wagon for fun.
Towing travel trailers is a hairy proposition, even with proper towing vehicles. A classic station wagon will definitely not do, to safely tow your 8000lb+ trailer.
There are many posts bubbling with opinions on this subject.
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Old 04-19-2003, 12:32 PM   #7
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Re: Towing with a classic station wagon

Originally posted by ipso_facto
I would like to inquire if it is feasible to tow my '32 unit (8500 lbs gross) with a classic station wagon.
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Old 04-19-2003, 01:45 PM   #8
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Scroll down to see examples of 1973 Town & Country towing an A/S, although cannot tell what year.
1968 Polara and a 1963 Globe Trotter
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Old 04-19-2003, 07:15 PM   #9
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Without getting into the feasibility of your proposal, I do believe the examples you cite involve trailers considerably shorter and lighter than your 32'.

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Old 04-19-2003, 07:18 PM   #10
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1970 was the Peak of the HP rage. My 1970 Pontiac Lemans Sport Convertable with a Big Block 350 (Quit thinking chevy) was rated more Horse power then a 1974 455. 71 it was already starting to go down but the fact of the matter is who cares? those cars are old enough not to need emmissions and you can do anything you want.

The sweet thing you could do is swap a newer Fuel injected truck power plant, 3.73 gears and Over drive transmission into it and have Classic Cruiser with a all the bennifits of Better fuel economy and reliability.

As for the platform I would seriously concider changing to something closer to 3.73. Frame on wagons is VERY strong. The cars you speak of have been band in may Demolition Derby's because they were vertual tanks. The axle, while being a lot stronger then newer cars, is still no truck axle. 31ft 8500lb is a lot of weight. If it was a 24-26 and closer to 5K I'd say no big deal but 31ft is a big trailer.
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Old 04-19-2003, 09:03 PM   #11
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I like to explore various possibilities, but the other posters are right: The truck is indeed better in all aspects.

Too many things to go wrong with this idea, even if it could work - firstly I don't think you can even find a nice one like 10 years ago. They are all at junk yards.

Now that I think about this idea more carefully, I recall why I sold my early 70's sedan, something would break on it with regularity.

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