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Old 04-19-2006, 02:55 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle Inquiry

I could really use some tow vehicle advice, I have a 1970 Overlander and have not yet bought a tow vehicle. Would love to hear from some fellow Overlanders about their preferences, gas or diesel mileage etc. I want to pay about 6,500 to 8,000 dollars and don't care what it looks like as long as it gets us to where we are going without breaking the gas bank. I live in
Warkworth Ontario, and would love to hear from anyone with a vehicle for sale within a 100 miles. Thanks, I cannot wait to get rollin.

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Old 04-19-2006, 04:48 PM   #2
Frank S
1973 27' Overlander
peoria , Illinois
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Hi DONNAD--My experience is all Chevy, so I'll talk Chevy. Comparable Ford & Dodge will also work. You need a truck to tow. 1/2 ton 5.7 with a 4.10 rear up to 27'Overlander. 3/4 ton 7.4 with a 3.73 rear for over 27'. No diesel, as repair for the $6.5 to $8K you want to spend will be very high. Next how many people do you want to carry? This will narrow your choice of full size pickup, Suburban, or a full size van. The money you want to spend will put you in the 1999 to 1997 model range. You will also need a transmission cooler, a hitch receiver on your truck, and a load equalizer hitch. If you go with a numerically lower rear you will be disappointed. Good luck with your search, and get that A/S rolling.--Frank S

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Old 04-19-2006, 07:27 PM   #3
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Tow Vehicle Inquiry

Greetings DONNAD!

I have towed my '64 Overlander (6,100 pounds gross weight) with a fairly wide variety of vehicles. While I have towed with small block V8s, the most satisfactory performance for my towing needs has been with big block V8s -- 455 c.i. Ponticac V8, 500 c.i. Cadillac V8, 383 c.i. MOPAR V8, 454 c.i. GMC V8 -- typically, these vehicles had differentials between 3.23 and 4.11 (other than the Cadillac that has a 2.70 final drive) my average MPG at a steady 55 MPH averages 10 to 12 MPG. From the small block camp, I have towed with 307 c.i. Oldsmobile V8, 350 c.i. Chevrolet V8, and 360 c.i. AMC V8 (best performer of the small block V8s that I have had) -- each of these vehicles had between 3.23 and 3.90 differential ratios -- again MPG was fairly consistent at between 9 and 12 MPG at a steady 55 MPH.

The region where you travel may have some bearing on the vehicle that will prvoide the most satisfactory performance. My Chevrolet K1500 Z71 was adequate on flat highways, but totally unsuited to travel in the Rocky Mountains or even the Blue Ridge. The Jeep Grand Wagoneer with the 360 AMC V8 was the best all-around tow vehicle of the small block equipped vehicles that I have owned -- but it also had the lowest average MPG and smallest fuel tank (it was doing well when it hit 10 MPG towing) -- it was adequate on all but the steepest grades in the Rocky Mountains. The Oldsmobile 307 V8 (it was in a GMC G20 Vandura) struggled to maintain 50 MPH on even the most level stretch of highway.

Of the fairly recent tow vehicles that I have owned, my favorite is the '99 GMC K2500 Suburban that I ordered new and took delivery of on April 22, 1998. It has served me well for 160,000+ miles, and I totally expect the truck to see 300,000 miles before I consider trading. It is equipped with the 7400 VORTEC (7.4 Liter/454 c.i. V8), 4.10 differentials and factory heavy duty towing -- it is actually far more powerful than needed for the Overlander (10,000 pound trailer tow rating). A big part of my preference for this vehicle is that it is rarely necessary to downshift lower than second gear when traveling in the Rocky Mountains -- when I towed with the 350 c.i. Chevrolet V8, I was frequently in first gear creeping up grades with grave concerns that the combination wasn't going to make it (it only took one Rocky Mountain Vacation to convince me to trade on the big block equipped Suburban). there are a number of vehicles that make good matches for a coach the size of an Overlander. One of my shopping guidelines has been to seek a tow vehicle with a trailer tow rating that is 120% of my coach's gross weight which translates to a trailer tow rating of about 8,000 pounds.

Good luck with your search for a tow vehicle!

Kevin D. Allen
WBCCI (Lifetime Member)/VAC/Free Wheelers #6359
AIR #827
1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 04-25-2006, 03:54 PM   #4
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Caldwell , Texas
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Diesel is the only thing I will tow with , once you have gone diesel you will not want togo back , 99 Ford F250 SD Diesel here , my friend started with a 5L gas and now has a diesel and now feels the same way
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Old 04-25-2006, 04:24 PM   #5
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more diesel and less gas

we too bought a trailer and then needed a tow vehicle. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that only w/ a good diesel would I be satisfied. I don't use my TV as a daily driver so MPG when not towing was not a concern.

I found a 1995 ford f350 crew cab (four doors) long bed for $6k. the PO had just spent $4500 in fuel delivery work (new tanks, lines, etc etc. ) we spent another $2k on brake work.... so in the end we spent $8k. truck doesn't look bad and towing is a breeze.

now for the best part, I get a/b 14 mpg while towing. towing the same trailer w/ just about any gas vehicle out there will get single digit mpg (likely around 8 mpg). and since I have a diesel, I get to run willie biodiesel. so 20% of the fuel I run comes from domestic sources and has far less poison in the exhaust.

I hope to run b100 in the future. and the truck runs better and will last longer when run on biodiesel. anyhow, I hope that we can lessen our dpendance on foreign oil and oil in general. and I'll still be on the rd w/ my diesel f350.

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Old 04-25-2006, 08:06 PM   #6
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This combination of 22' Safari double axle and 6 litre turbodiesel '05 ? Ford F250 showed up at the Ft. Mountain Park rally and makes a nice combination. Is the diesel overkill? Sure but I'm sure he is loving the gas mileage.
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'01 2500hd ext. cab, 8.1 litre gas, 5 sp. Allison auto
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Old 04-25-2006, 08:15 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DONNAD
I could really use some tow vehicle advice, I have a 1970 Overlander and have not yet bought a tow vehicle... I want to pay about 6,500 to 8,000 dollars and don't care what it looks like as long as it gets us to where we are going without breaking the gas bank. I live in
Warkworth Ontario....
Wait a minute, is that C$8,000?

How many do you need to seat? Right now the best buys in tow vehicles are standard cab pickups, at least here in the lower midwest.

'85 Sovereign, 25'
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Old 04-25-2006, 08:42 PM   #8
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1992 34' Excella
riverhead , New York
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Donnad, please don't waste your money on these high priced tow vehicles. I tow my 34' Excella 1000 with a six cylinder Astrovan. My trailer weighs in at 8700 pounds. We get between 13 and 16 miles per gallon on regular gas. We travel all over the USA and Canada. June 1 we are leaving for Salem Or and onto Alaska. Astrovans are uniquely qualified to pull Airstreams. They too have a very low center of gravity, a short distance between the hitch head and the axle and the transmission is the same as a suburban. Don't sacrifice handling for power. Others seem to push these big anti-American gas guzzlers, don't buy into it. If you need more specific information about the specs and towing capabilities contact Can-Am-Rv in London Ontario. Speak with Andy Tompson. He has done most of the research and is a very reliable source of good, hands on infromation. Good Luck in whatever choice you make. Joe.
Joe Colao 50th Anniversary President of Metro NY WBCCI # 30916
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Old 04-26-2006, 12:40 AM   #9
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Where are the brakes DUDE?

Joe -

So happy to hear of you success with the AstroVan for your towing duties.... BUT I GOTTA ASK.... Where are your BRAKES?

That is a HUGE trailer to try to ask the AV to try to stop.... The weight equation just doesn't add up. 'Wag the dog' and all that.... There are TOO MANY situations where this sounds like it would get scary. BTW, be sure to post your travel schedule as I really want to be elsewhere...

Admire the mileage your getting but are seriously questioning the safety.... Have I missed anything?


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Old 04-26-2006, 08:54 AM   #10
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If it has a V6, it has the 4l60E transmission. The heavier trucks use the 4L80E, 4L85E or Allison 1000 transmission. Pulling an 8700 Lb 34' trailer with V6 and 4L60E.......seems dangerous at the very least. 13 to 16 mpg, pulling that kind of a load? VERY doubtful.
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Old 01-03-2007, 07:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pick
If it has a V6, it has the 4l60E transmission. The heavier trucks use the 4L80E, 4L85E or Allison 1000 transmission. Pulling an 8700 Lb 34' trailer with V6 and 4L60E.......seems dangerous at the very least. 13 to 16 mpg, pulling that kind of a load? VERY doubtful.
I've pulled a 7x14 enclosed with two pallets of Time Warner DVRs in it with my 93 Astro and that would be the max. 8700 with an Astro? Sure it may pull great but wait till that panic stop around a curve and that trailer pushes the van around and you're reading the license plate on your trailer at speed.

I just realized I've revived an old thread but the ole "my rig can pull anything" really rubs me wrong. It's not the pulling, it's the stopping. And it's not just your own life yer playing with, there's the people around you on the same road to think about. Was looking on the CanAm website at all the different "ready to tow" combos they have... how irresponsible.
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Old 01-03-2007, 08:22 PM   #12
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1975 28' Argosy 28
Snellville , Georgia
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Tow Vehicle

There are allot of good choices. I think that it comes down to personal preference and cost. After working on every kind of diesel engine for 20 years, I can tell you they all would be good choice. I pull my 28' Argosy with a 2001 Chevy Tahoe/AirRide, gas V8. It does a great job. My personal opinion is I like Chevy's better. I think they are built better for the long haul. But you will get allot of different opinions on here or any where for that matter. I would stick to Dodge, Ford or Chevy though. The Nissan Titan is over rated. Good luck.
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Old 01-03-2007, 08:26 PM   #13
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Casey, I noticed you're from Snellville.... I grew up off of Hewatt just south of 78...
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:11 PM   #14
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Thumbs up F250

I have had 3 tow vehicles for my Severeign 5000#+
1985 Chevy Suburban w/ 350. 3/4 ton. not enough umph.
1990 Ford F350 crew cab dually w/ 460 8mpg towing 8 mpg not towing
1999 Ford F250 superduty extended cab5.4 Triton 13mpg towing 16 mpg not towing highway. Most comfortable seat I ever sat.

I found I did not really need an equalizer hitch with the big Fords. A swaybar was a good idea but even without it no fishtailing. I think dually is good for extra braking control but the 250 has a single rear axle and does fine. I think the rear end gearing is important. Stay away from the low end torquey stump pullers and lean more towards a rear end that will let you cruise at highway speed without turning 3000rpms

I went threw the diesel gas debate. Diesel is no longer cheaper even with better mpgs. Diesels last longer, but, if you need engine work get out the big bucks.
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Marshall
I found I did not really need an equalizer hitch with the big Fords. A swaybar was a good idea but even without it no fishtailing.
Sorry Marshall -- not picking, but bells go off with this statement. Let me clarify some terminology. We are speaking about after-market items that are not part of the OEM trailer A-frame or hitch and they are not inherent in a tow vehicle's receiver. WD & antisway are incorporated into the combined mechanism of many brands; eg, Reese Dual Cam, Equal-I-Zer has their own system, Hensley Arrow though expensive is the very best, Blue Ox, and many lesser "house brands" at dealers and so on...

Weight Distribution (WD) gear: Spring bars that when activated will apply torque to the tow vehicle (TV) frame so that not all the hitch weight is carried by the rear TV axle; ie, some of the hitch weight is actually transferred to the front axle. With passenger and other TV cargo, hitch weight might otherwise put a rear axle over its rated load rating. Measure to the top of all four TV wheel well enclosures before hitching. After hitching and engaging the WD gear the same 4 reference points should all settle by approximately the same amount.

Antisway: A variety of methods. First -- friction antisway is seen less commonly with new equipment and can be unreliable when you need it most -- in wet weather. Antisway works to dampen swing of the trailer if the tow vehicle makes a sudden lateral move. It helps keep the trailer in line with the tow vehicle and is not usually called on during 99% or more of routine towing. It is an invaluable aid for the inevitable, but it buys only a margin of safety and will not prevent loss of control in extreme maneuvers.

Now take a look at Don in E Texas' avatar pic. Some tow vehicles naturally don't need weight distribution. I can make a blanket statement that the greatest majority of us will always want to utilize WD & antisway gear. I have seen my antisway function in a situation where the trailer would not have been put in harms way. I definitely want antisway providing a margin of safety for stronger emergency avoidance and braking situations.

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Old 01-04-2007, 11:58 PM   #16
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Here's a tow vehicle for ya... wonder what it's tow rating is....

Saw it in person at the Smithfield Christmas parade.

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Old 01-05-2007, 08:45 AM   #17
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Suburban, 454, 3:73

mine is a 93, tows and stops my 32 footer just fine. Honest 10 mpg, comfortable and lotsa room inside.Sure it might be a little overkill for you but as you have a max of 8K to spend you should be able to find one, well where you live the body will probably be rotted out, expand your range look for a clean vehicle in one of the non snowy states.The old TV seem to me to be a bargain.

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Old 01-11-2007, 11:50 AM   #18
1971 27' Overlander
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This is the tow rig of choice for hauling my '71 27' Overlander through the Rockies. Originally, the tow rating of the '83 Wagoneer was something like 3,500#, and even that may have been optimistic. After grafting-on 3/4-ton drivetrain, suspension, brakes, etc., building a fuel-injected (a big help at altitude) AMC 360 with around twice it's original power, ditching the silly slushbox for a proper manual tranny (the only way I'll tow), fitting 3.73 gears, adjustable shocks, equalizer and sway control, it finally pulls whatever is asked (I've done 8,000 lb over 12,000' passes with ease). Fuel mileage ranges from 10 MPG for hard towing to 20 unladen at altitude, which is about twice what the rig was capable of when new. Of course, it's now a $10,000 Jeep worth maybe five hunnert bucks, but it works for me, or did until it became the property of My Dear Wife's New Boyfriend.


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Old 01-11-2007, 12:20 PM   #19
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1 ton B350

we have a 1994 1 ton Dodge Van, B350 (shorty, not the big extendo version). Better brakes, 5.9L V8. Paid $7500 for it 3 years ago. Still running strong.

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