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Old 07-30-2015, 02:24 PM   #1
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Was I just lucky, stupid or both?

Been out of RVing since 1987. About to retire and thought we wanted a diesel pusher, now leaning toward a trailer because I don't want to deal with maintaining something as complicated as a pusher. Understanding all the towing advice, 1/2 vs 3/4 vs 1 ton and all the weight considerations with current tow combinations is challenging to say the least.

We had a 1979 Ford E-150 (351) with a Midas conversion pulling a 26' Mallard TT for about 8 years on vacations and weekends. We towed from Dallas to Florida, all thru Colorado, California... long trips in hot weather and never had a single problem with the van or trailer. probably put 20,000 miles towing and total of 140k on the van. The van was stock, I personally installed the receiver, WD hitch, sway control, brake controller and transmission cooler. It stopped and handled just fine, no sway, no overheating. I think we got about 10 mpg towing just under 65 mph on cruise. We loved that van. I can still picture my girls playing with their Barbies in the back or the van, fighting over who got to sit next to the rear A/C ducts. BTW, my wife towed almost as much as I did with no complaints. I don't know what the axle ration was,but it would get around 17 mpg solo and did require running in second gear into a headwind.

I never seriously considered the weights involved, we just hooked most anything to a 1/2 ton in those days and took off. Was I just lucky, stupid or both?
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:36 PM   #2
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I'll vote for both.
;-)
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:36 PM   #3
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Neither. Your experience is parallel to almost anyone. That's how we grew up. Hook and go. Common sense played a bigger role that the arms-race door stickers.
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:44 PM   #4
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You were not Lucky or stupid, your van was very capable of towing a TT that size so there was no reason to have trouble with the setup.
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Old 07-30-2015, 02:55 PM   #5
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No amount of careful engineering will ever replace dumb luck. There is certainly an element of common sense to this, and back in those days, the trailers were much smaller and lighter, so it was not surprising that your E150 could tow it. You put the best hitch on it and stated that it never felt squirrely, and the van had enough guts to pull it and stop it. Empirically you got it right.
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Old 07-31-2015, 10:37 AM   #6
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Half tons were much more capable then. Newer 1/2 ton trucks are designed to ride like cars, not carry weight. I squat the wifes 1/2 ton with 15 bags of pine mulch from lowes. Hell we (my dad that is) pulled a 30 foot TT with an olds toranado front wheel drive across the country and believe it or not you saw more cars than trucks pulling trailers back then. Heck that olds probably weighed more than a modern F-150.
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Old 07-31-2015, 11:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhooker View Post
Half tons were much more capable then. Newer 1/2 ton trucks are designed to ride like cars, not carry weight. I squat the wifes 1/2 ton with 15 bags of pine mulch from lowes. Hell we (my dad that is) pulled a 30 foot TT with an olds toranado front wheel drive across the country and believe it or not you saw more cars than trucks pulling trailers back then. Heck that olds probably weighed more than a modern F-150.
I will second that. Cars and trucks of old were overbuilt and a half ton truck was easily capable of a one ton load.

Today the companies are more interested in PROFIT than safety margins so the a half ton truck is a half ton truck.

In addition to that a lot has to do with the skill and knowledge of the operator.. For example I used to have a trailer that, the first time I towed it, was something of a ping pong ball (bounced around and fishtailed like you can't believe) The next time I towed it it tracked like the bed of a straight bed truck (no tribble at all).. cause of skill and knowledge and one added accessory.

But trucks of old were way better built.
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Old 07-31-2015, 11:25 AM   #8
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Trucks of old are better than today's trucks? You gotta be kidding me...

There was so much flex in those old truck frames that was always an uneven gap between the bed and the cab.

Next someone will post that the old muscles cars were faster than today's muscle cars.
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Old 07-31-2015, 01:19 PM   #9
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Next someone will post that the old muscles cars were faster than today's muscle cars.
No, but way cooler.
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:43 PM   #10
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" Was I just lucky, stupid or both?
=================
I would say lucky like some of us back in the day, until we became aware of our "lack of knowledge"
I agree with the van as a great towing vehicle because of the self containment while traveling. We considered the class A's but found they would not work for us having a class C prior. So we went with the 2014 Ford E350 4x4 Quadvan with an appropriately sized TT.
Good luck in your search for the ultimate RV!
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Old 07-31-2015, 02:48 PM   #11
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disagree

todays trucks are much better.

Jim
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Old 07-31-2015, 03:49 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by redhooker View Post
Half tons were much more capable then. Newer 1/2 ton trucks are designed to ride like cars, not carry weight. I squat the wifes 1/2 ton with 15 bags of pine mulch from lowes. Hell we (my dad that is) pulled a 30 foot TT with an olds toranado front wheel drive across the country and believe it or not you saw more cars than trucks pulling trailers back then. Heck that olds probably weighed more than a modern F-150.
Kinda funny, because my father used to own a Shell station in the 50's-60's and often talked about all the cars he took in payment from "Back East", (any city geographically East of San Bernardino, CA), new arrivals to California. Many people came to settle in California towing Travel Trailers behind their coupes, and sedans. Very few people owned pickup trucks back then. All the trailer hitches on cars were WELDED on back then! If the car was restorable, he would grind off the hitch in order to be able to re-sell the car to "normal" folk!
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Old 08-01-2015, 08:06 AM   #13
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Many people came to settle in California towing Travel Trailers behind their coupes, and sedans. Very few people owned pickup trucks back then. All the trailer hitches on cars were WELDED on back then! If the car was restorable, he would grind off the hitch in order to be able to re-sell the car to "normal" folk!
Yeah, but those were body-on-frame sedans with solid axles and leafsprings.
You can find a late Ford Crownvic or Chevy Caprice and tow a fairly large trailer with them quite well.
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Old 08-01-2015, 10:27 AM   #14
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. We had a 1979 Ford E-150 (351) with a Midas conversion pulling a 26' Mallard TT for about 8 years on vacations and weekends. ... I can still picture my girls playing with their Barbies in the back or the van, fighting over who got to sit next to the rear A/C ducts.
I ordered a new 1977 E-150 with the 351 "Windsor" V8. The van was a "commercial" window van with privacy glass and the Chateau trim, rear AC, two Captain's Chairs, and nothing behind the front seats but the bare ridged floor and finished walls and ceiling because of the Chateau trim with rear AC. So I found two more matching Flexsteel Captain's Chairs in a bone yard, then finished the floor with 3/8ths plywood, 2" high-density foam and plush carpet. Added a sterio system for the back, with headphones but no speakers, so the kids could blow out their brains on hard rock music while Mon and Dad enjoyed the regular AM/FM radio in the front.

Yeah the kids enjoyed the padded floor in the back, to the point they rarely sat in their two Captain's Chairs. But of course that was before the nanny seat belt laws.

Our trailer was a pop-up tent trailer, so no problem towing it with the E-150. We hauled a Kawasaki enduro dirt bike on the trailer tongue, but the van didn't sag too much, so we didn't bother with air shocks or air bags. We had that trailer the entire time the kids were home, and drug it from Maine to California, and Florida to Seattle, and everywhere in between. We lived in Denver most of those years, so spent a lot of time climbing mountain passes on the way to or from dirt-bike trail or ski slopes. Awful MPG, but gas was relatively cheap back then, so we hooked up and went.

We drove that van as our family car for over 125,000 mines, usually dragging the trailer with dirt bike on the tongue, and never spent a dime on repairs, other than routine maintenance items such as oil changes, tires, shocks, and brake pads. Our next door neighbor loved that van, and bought it from us, then put another 100,000 miles on it with no major repairs. Our secret to a long trouble-free engine life was oil and filter changes every 5,000 miles. We had the oil changed even when on the road if the odo rolled up to another 5,000 mile interval.
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