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Old 08-13-2018, 12:01 PM   #1
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66 Thunderbird?

Is this possible for local towing?

Airstream is a 63 Sovereign.

Thunderbird is a rare Q code car with larger 428 engine.

Currently no hitch installed on car but weight distribution hitch would be used.

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Old 08-13-2018, 12:18 PM   #2
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That Thunderchicken has drum brakes in the front, no? The '66 with a 428 Thunderjet I wanted to buy in a previous life had drums all around, which was one reason my dad nixed that deal. Softly-sprung and under-braked could be a problem.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:39 PM   #3
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Thunderbird towing

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Originally Posted by DKB_SATX View Post
That Thunderchicken has drum brakes in the front, no? The '66 with a 428 Thunderjet I wanted to buy in a previous life had drums all around, which was one reason my dad nixed that deal. Softly-sprung and under-braked could be a problem.
All Ford Thunderbirds from 1965 forward hard disc brakes on the front. Both the 390 V-8 cars and the 428 V-8 had them. No difference. The Thunderbird has a leaf spring rear suspension that can easily be modified to except the additional hitch weight. You want to add a transmission cooler and make sure engine cooling system is in good shape. Most of these cars came with a 3.00 open differential. Not the best towing gear. However, they all had the famous Ford 9" differential (a really strong axle that lots of drag racers loved, including me). A 3.50 limited slip (no lower due to no overdrive transmission) can easily be sourced and installed. The Thunderbird is not a full frame car. They are unibody so have someone make you are a proper hitch and weld it to the rear support rails. I have owned a 1965 and 2 1966 Thunderbirds and did full restorations on all of them. Every nut and bolt. it would make a Fabulous tow car for your Airstream. GO FOR IT!!!! P.S> The 428 V-8 is a powerhouse. Lots of torque. I had a 1968 Cougar 428 Cobra Jet car and it would haul a__! Dragged raced it all through high school.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:02 PM   #4
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Towing in the 1960's

All through the 1960's and into the early70's my family, all 7 of us, travelled all over the U.S. pulling a 25' Holiday Rambler. My Father got a new car every 2 years. Big Ford Galaxies with the largest engine available and factory tow pkg. (yes tow packages were options even back then). He would have the local camper sales place weld on a hitch and install a brake box and air shocks. Away we would go. No sway control, no weight distributing hitch, nothing fancy. Over mountain ranges, through the desert, and into Canada in 1967 for the Worlds Fair. Today this would be impossible. That Holiday Rambler had to weigh at least 5k LBS with all of our junk in it!!! We even drove over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain Park, Colorado. Fantastic adventure as a child that made me an Airstream owner today. Safe travels in your 1966 T-Bird.
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Old 08-13-2018, 01:16 PM   #5
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I think front disks were optional at that time.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:31 PM   #6
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Disc brakes

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I think front disks were optional at that time.
Up until 1964 T-Birds had drum brakes. Starting with the 1965 model year front disc brakes were standard equipment on the T-Birds. They still had the single cup master cylinder until the 1967 model year when all Ford passenger cars went to the dual master cylinder design. Fords regular passenger cars, Falcon, Fairlane, Custom, Custom 500, and Galaxie 500 came standard with drums all around. Discs were available on certain models as optional equipment. In the 1990's I performed several frame off restorations on mid 1960's full size Ford products as well as a couple of Mustangs, Fairlanes, Torinos, and one Mercury Montego MX with a J Code 302 engine (very rare). Yes, I am a gear head and love all kinds of cars. I look forward to some pictures of that 66 T-Bird pulling that Airstream.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:54 PM   #7
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Vintage towing vintage is just cool. Pat
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:55 PM   #8
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I would think the question is not can you pull it, but can you stop it? I wouldn't even think about it with out trailer brakes and a controller in the car.
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:27 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
Up until 1964 T-Birds had drum brakes. Starting with the 1965 model year front disc brakes were standard equipment on the T-Birds. They still had the single cup master cylinder until the 1967 model year when all Ford passenger cars went to the dual master cylinder design. Fords regular passenger cars, Falcon, Fairlane, Custom, Custom 500, and Galaxie 500 came standard with drums all around. Discs were available on certain models as optional equipment. In the 1990's I performed several frame off restorations on mid 1960's full size Ford products as well as a couple of Mustangs, Fairlanes, Torinos, and one Mercury Montego MX with a J Code 302 engine (very rare). Yes, I am a gear head and love all kinds of cars. I look forward to some pictures of that 66 T-Bird pulling that Airstream.
So do you think the brakes on a 1966 t-bird are similar to a 1/2 ton pickup?
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:36 PM   #10
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1/2 ton brakes

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Originally Posted by r carl View Post
So do you think the brakes on a 1966 t-bird are similar to a 1/2 ton pickup?
The rear drum brakes on most of the full size ford products in the mid 60's were very similar. Most were 2 1/2" wide x 11" diameter. The exceptions were the high performance packages and police/taxi cars (commonly referred to as "P" code cars.) When I restored the 63, 64, 65, and 66 Galaxies I indeed used replacement parts that crossfit 1/2 ton Ford pickups of the day. Front brakes on the T-Birds (65 and up) are not like the 1/2 ton Ford pickups of the day. A 1966 T-Bird with a properly functioning brake system and proper electric brakes on the TT should be quite fine. Possibly upgrading to the dual cup master cylinder would be wise. It is a modification that any competent shop could do. Thousands of people back in the 60's pulled Airstreams and other large TT all over America with big Detroit iron. No one in the camping club we belonged towed with a pickup. Cadillacs, Buicks, Chryslers, ect. were the cars of choice.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:22 PM   #11
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So do you think the brakes on a 1966 t-bird are similar to a 1/2 ton pickup?
If the question your asking is if I think the brakes on a 1966 T-Bird are similar to TODAYS 1/2 ton pickup, the answer is "No, of course not".
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:30 PM   #12
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Disc brakes

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I think front disks were optional at that time.
Google this "Were front disc brakes standard on 1965 Ford Thunderbird". Some very informative reading.
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Old 08-13-2018, 08:32 PM   #13
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With proper safety updates it will be just wonderful.Click image for larger version

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Old 08-13-2018, 09:07 PM   #14
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Cars pulling Airstreams

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With proper safety updates it will be just wonderful.Attachment 319826
Fantastic picture! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-13-2018, 09:27 PM   #15
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Germany Airstreams

They weren't pulled with SUV's back in the day.
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Old 08-13-2018, 10:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laflerd View Post
Is this possible for local towing?

Airstream is a 63 Sovereign.

Thunderbird is a rare Q code car with larger 428 engine.

Currently no hitch installed on car but weight distribution hitch would be used.

Attachment 319789
Check out Fresh Air on here, he could give you some advice. Think his is a '66 Bonneville with a similar Airstream.
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:44 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by uraljohn View Post
If the question your asking is if I think the brakes on a 1966 T-Bird are similar to TODAYS 1/2 ton pickup, the answer is "No, of course not".
After I posted that Q I thought I should of clarified that. I remember big cars having powerful brakes back then. Had a 1966 Delta 88 that you could lock the brakes with 1 toe. You could steer it with 1 finger. Impressive car that was.
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Old 08-14-2018, 04:48 AM   #18
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I actually drove, and towed with, a Galaxie with drum brakes for many years, and survived. Up until last year I was driving a 1959 Galaxie in modern traffic without issues. Properly adjusted and maintained drum brakes will actually stop a car very well.
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Old 08-14-2018, 05:39 AM   #19
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Fantastic picture! Thanks for sharing.

Fantastic Photo! Click image for larger version

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Old 08-14-2018, 08:23 AM   #20
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Is this possible for local towing?
Thunderbird is a rare Q code car with larger 428 engine.
Currently no hitch installed on car but weight distribution hitch would be used.
Beautiful car.

One of the negatives even properly adjusted drum brakes had was typically discovered in heavy rain when the brake shoes & drums had water between the friction surfaces, the other was brake fade, which is why you see truck escape ramps on steep downhills.

I would also encourage you to flush the brake system(furtherest away to closest in sequence) & use something like Castrol's LMA brake fluid.
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