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Old 11-05-2010, 07:01 PM   #1
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Remember When?

This is a nice photo of 1981 model Sunlines but look close. Do you remember when.............cars could actually tow campers? I don't mean SUV's or pickups, cars. I had a 1983 Plymouth Satellite with a 318ci engine and towed a 24 footer with no problem. Are there any cars today that can tow a camper other than a mini?



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Old 11-05-2010, 07:18 PM   #2
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We had a Buick Estate Wagon that we towed our 24' Sunline with in the 90's. It had a 403 V8. We used to say it could pass anything but a gas station
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Old 11-05-2010, 07:52 PM   #3
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I guess that's the difference. Today the engines are big enough in some cars but they're geared for mileage through the transmission and rear end. Not for towing.

In the 60's, 70's 80's and even the 90's to a point we weren't as much concerned about mileage.

To an extreme, I once had a 61 Falcon Ranchero with a small 6 cyl. To be able to haul any weight, the rear end was geared so that it top ended at about 65 and got 11 mpg.
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Old 11-05-2010, 08:57 PM   #4
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about 6 months ago I sold a 91 Olds wagon (the curvy caprice with olds interior).

It was one of the last true tow wagons - had the 3.23 locker, kc4/vo5 trailering package, the EFI v8 - it did pull my 5000lb boat once (at 8mpg!) long distance, but otherwise was left with the boat for the short stuff. did well with the popup. prolly would have been nice for my sunny.

around 2001/2002 I built an 86 pontiac full size (caprice with pontiac trim) that had the H code 305 and 700R4 into a towing vehicle for a couple articles. I actually miss that car - something about the sound a 4bbl made...

used to be you could hit the boneyards to find the HD stuff to install. After 2 bouts with high metal prices, everything is scrapped to china...
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Old 11-08-2010, 03:04 PM   #5
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Those 1980's Sunlines were all very lightweight campers. My 1987 T2251 has a listed dry weight of about 2800lbs. They went out of their way to make them lighter because of all those small cars that popped up in the 1980's. The car in the forefront is an old GM X-car (either Olds Omega or Pontiac Pheonix). Those were mostly equipped with a 2.5L L4 or possibly 2.8L V6 so they weren't overly powerful. The one in the middle is a Volkswagen Rabbit, another small engine. The trailers were just built lighter, hence the title "sportible leightweights". I will say I don't think I'd pull any travel trailer too far with a small car!
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Old 11-08-2010, 03:06 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=pwb01;91718]This is a nice photo of 1981 model Sunlines but look close. Do you remember when.............cars could actually tow campers? I don't mean SUV's or pickups, cars. I had a 1983 Plymouth Satellite with a 318ci engine and towed a 24 footer with no problem. Are there any cars today that can tow a camper other than a mini?
[QUOTE]

The answer is YES....
Most people buy trucks or SUV's today for the extra room, but that does not mean there are not many CARS able to tow a TT.
Any V8 CAR w/Rearwheel or AWD of today "2010" can tow a camper as we did back in the day. All have at least a 5spd. Most 6-7spd.now!

Some Examples:
------------------
Audi A6,or A8 (6spd.)
BMW 5,6 or 7 series (7 or 8spd.)
Cadillac CTS or STS (6spd.)
Chev.Camaro (6spd.)
Chrysler 300 (5spd.)
Dodge Challenger (5spd.)
Dodge Charger (5spd.)
Ford Mustang (5 or 6spd)
Hyundai Genesis (6spd.)
Infinity M (7spd.)
Jaguar XF (6-spd.)
Lexus GS or LS (8spd.)
Mercedes C,CL,CLS,S or E class (7spd.)

There many other RWD or AWD CARS that will tow a TT w/V6 engs.w/Over 300hp or Small V8's but not as good as the above list.
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Old 11-08-2010, 03:52 PM   #7
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Old 11-08-2010, 07:59 PM   #8
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Andy Thomson's CanAm RV is just an hour from us and I am very familiar with what he does from having backed away from a terribly overweight trailer he was trying to sell us. He is a hitch guru in the sense that he will weld up a hitch for any vehicle that is not meant to tow more than 1000 lb. and then hook up a 34 ft. Airstream and it will tow stable. Cars like a 300C that have lots of power to begin with are significantly modified with new springs, shocks and tires and he always uses a Hensley. One of his favorite past combinations was a Ford Windstar and 34 ft. Airstream. As far as I know only one of his rigs has ever been in a serious accident--and that was a Windstar/34 ft. AS--and the owner walked away from a complete total singing Thomsons's praises claiming that he would have been killed except for him setting him up with such a nice combo... h'mm...

In our case he was trying to sell us a dry 6200 lb. Sunnybrook fiver with a dry pin of 1500+ lb. for our then 1500 Silverado with 4.8 L. This was a big tall fiver and our truck would have been overloaded in every category by just the dry weight. For an additional $2000 he would "modify" the 1500 to tow this trailer. When he mentioned that the PO had towed the almost new Sunnybrook--he conveniently didn't have a brochure anymore--with a 1/2 ton, the last red flag went up and I went home to Google them and get the factory weights/dimensions etc. and Sunline popped up in one of my searches. The rest is history.

I also subscribed to RV Lifestyle, where his column appears, for a number of years and got a pretty good insight into his unscientific, uncontrolled, biased testing of various combinations. His writing is actually quite entertaining and you might enjoy some of his columns which are freely available on the website although sometimes abbreviated from what appeared in the magazine.

Henry
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:13 AM   #9
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building up cars and trucks can be done to a certian limit of the hardwware underneath. Sure, I can stick the F250 running gear on my F150 and it will in fact be an F250, but staying the same hardware?

an example: my 1990 F150 is ordered from the factory to tow 7200lbs and haul 6250 lbs

the tow rating was the max ford specified by the eingine tranny axle combo (5.0, aod, 3.55) it goes to 7600lbs tow if I got the 4.10 axle. ford specced no other higher limits for the 5.0 engine so for someone to claim it can go higher, without a powertrain warranty - is fool hardy.

now load handling, that is tricky.

we know from experience that in my year truck, the F150/250/350 used the exact same frame and cross members.

we know that the 8.8 rear is capable of having a maximum 3800lbs, so it is possible to 'spring' the rear (I myself use hellwig contact overloads) therefore you MIGHT get a 8ft truck camper in or a lighter 5th wheel (the front D44IFS will handle 3400lbs so you can spring to 7200lbs assuming you are aware of your load points and CoG)

now we come to hitches....older trucks with thick C frames can take a class 4 and have reasonable assurance of not pulling out. newer trucks with thin box frames CANNOT, unless the hitch is backed

unit bodies for the most part are limited to low tow ratings for the following reasons:

1) weak FDRs (FWD cars) a 2.50 FDR is not a towing axle. Since we know you cannot tow in overdrive on a fwd tranny (and most older RWD trannies - the newer ones with tow haul can handle it and 5 years from now we will understand if they held up), that low of a FDR almost makes direct seem like overdrive - the car prolly has a tiny radiator, no frontal cooling area, no oil cooler and thinwall aluminum heads.

2) weak frames. for the most part they are built with no attachment points in mind. the frame is dangerously thin and while all hitches require backing, it aint enuf (backing plates pull thru just as well as bolt heads )

3) disposable frames. You can LITERALLY bend the frame downwards into its predetermined crash zone by braking hard or running on an undulating road. and once you do, it cant be fixed.

4) brakes. what brakes? they are doing more with less. the theory being - its a car. People get into the 'holy cow!' braking situation and then let em cool down while they change their drawers. towing and using brakes - regardless of type, is akin to the workout race car brakes get. does your car/van/x-over have race car brakes? no.

5) balance. no tow vehicles are suspended to have their weight and CoG at a certain place. If you get into a situation where the stability afforded by tire traction is compromised, you get to learn first hand what having a lot of connected weight far behind you does....

long story short - if someone is telling you how to get a vehicle to tow more than its highest ever design/published rating, Id ask to see some credentials first, engineering second. (in pa where I hold an inspection mechanic license, you can fairly easily get waivers to exceed the titled GVWR to go up to the door sticker GVWR with a rather simple inspection (some people save money by titling a wc3 truck to wc2). to exceed the manu GVWR requires a complete review of all systems and manufacturer waivers etc
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Old 11-09-2010, 08:54 PM   #10
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I found this:

HowStuffWorks "Chevrolet Towing Capacity Chart"

which can let you link to apparently all tow charts from 2006-2009

The only audis in the US allowed to tow (a dash means NO) is the Q7 - whatever that is.
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quaddriver View Post
building up cars and trucks can be done to a certian limit of the hardwware underneath. Sure, I can stick the F250 running gear on my F150 and it will in fact be an F250, but staying the same hardware?
Hi Quad

Didn't the 3/4 and 1 tons have full floating rear axles where the 1/2 tons have a semi floater? The 1 ton rear axle is a beast to the 1/2 ton. At least what I remember in my 1980 F100 and 1975 F350. And for sure my 2005 Super duty is a beast of a rear axle.

I concur with you, I was shocked CanAm told Henry they would offer to upgrade a 1500 truck for $2K to hual that 5er. I for sure would not. Good for you Henry to walk away.

While upgrading springs helps that weak link it does not fix the rear axle itself nor the smaller brakes.

John
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Old 11-10-2010, 06:29 AM   #12
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Hi Quad

Didn't the 3/4 and 1 tons have full floating rear axles where the 1/2 tons have a semi floater? The 1 ton rear axle is a beast to the 1/2 ton. At least what I remember in my 1980 F100 and 1975 F350. And for sure my 2005 Super duty is a beast of a rear axle.
yessir, what I meant is that its actually very easy to rip the axles/springs and accoutrements from an F350 and graft onto an F150 (since they shared all powertrains 'cept the diesel and 460) and then you essentially have an F350 with F150 emblems with of course one of the smaller engine options
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Didn't the 3/4 and 1 tons have full floating rear axles where the 1/2 tons have a semi floater? The 1 ton rear axle is a beast to the 1/2 ton. At least what I remember in my 1980 F100 and 1975 F350. And for sure my 2005 Super duty is a beast of a rear axle.
My son just got a new company truck: 2010 F150 4X4, crew cab with 6.5 ft. bed. With its big tires and wheels it towers over my 1500HD and appears to be one tough truck... until you check the door sticker... 3800 lb. rear axle... mine is 6000 lb. Now, I'm not picking on Ford--I have fond memories of my 77 F150. At least with the F150 you can get a big axle--look for 7 bolt wheels--if you tick the right boxes when you order one, but most people don't realize that and judge the strength of a truck by its outward appearance and style.

Henry
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:00 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by henryj View Post
My son just got a new company truck: 2010 F150 4X4, crew cab with 6.5 ft. bed. With its big tires and wheels it towers over my 1500HD and appears to be one tough truck... until you check the door sticker... 3800 lb. rear axle... mine is 6000 lb. Now, I'm not picking on Ford--I have fond memories of my 77 F150. At least with the F150 you can get a big axle--look for 7 bolt wheels--if you tick the right boxes when you order one, but most people don't realize that and judge the strength of a truck by its outward appearance and style.

Henry
You might be reading the wrong spot on the sticker...

from here: GMC | GMC Sierra: Trucks: 1500, 1500HD, 2500HD, 3500, Denali Pickups: Sierra Specifications

you see the overall GVWR capabilities are around the number you quoted.

6000lbs is about where the dana 60 fits (trust me, you dont have a dana 60). For this other truck, 3800lbs is about what the old 8.8 is rated at (is the 8.8 still offered? its been a while since I cared... I know there is a slightly smaller version of the old 10.25" sterling offered to get a GVWR of around 8Klbs...) so you were most likely looking at the GAWR (of which there would be 2 boxes, front and rear)
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Old 11-10-2010, 04:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
You might be reading the wrong spot on the sticker...

from here: GMC | GMC Sierra: Trucks: 1500, 1500HD, 2500HD, 3500, Denali Pickups: Sierra Specifications

you see the overall GVWR capabilities are around the number you quoted.

6000lbs is about where the dana 60 fits (trust me, you dont have a dana 60).
This thread has made a couple of loops already, so forgive me for adding one more post, but I need to respond to quaddriver:

I do wear bifocals, but can still read the sticker . The 1500HD does indeed have a 6000 lb rear axle, 4410 front and 8600 lb. GVWR. I'm not sure why GM built it as it's so close to the 2500HD, but believe it may have had some pollution or license advantages by not exceeding 8600 lb. GM also built a similar light duty 2500 with the 1500 body style for a couple of years in the early 2000's. (At least from '01 to '03 they made the 1500, 1500HD, 2500, 2500HD and 3500--only the bankruptcy trustee knows why.) The main difference from the 2500HD is that the rear axle is semi floating so would not have the same load-it-up-to-max-everyday durability of the full floater. Ford also built a light F250 before the SD intro, but then rolled that model into an option on the F150. It is still available and can be identified by its unattractive 7 bolt steel wheels, but it only has a 4900 lb. rear axle so is less capable than the 1500HD. GM similarly is now making the max trailer tow package to keep up with Ford, but it also is less than the old 1500 HD.

Although the link you gave has 1500HD in its title, the specs are all 1500 and I actually navigated to the exact same page from GMC's 2011 page. The 1500HD has not been made for 4 years, but they still have it listed in the title! Their web designer needs to do some editing.

Henry
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