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Hot Rods pulling a travel trailer

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 29moonshine, Sep 5, 2019.

  1. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,301


    any one pull a 20 ft travel trailer with a 55 chevy wagon, I am trying to find out what I should do to it to make it safe
    dana barlow and Special Ed like this.
  2. Inked Monkey
    Joined: Apr 19, 2011
    Posts: 1,822

    Inked Monkey

    Look in the "antiquated" section and there is a big thread about vintage campers
    Tim likes this.
  3. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,301


  4. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,728

    from illinois

    If your 55 is in good mechanical condition , I'd recommend trailer brakes and strongly consider an equalizing hitch....I towed an 1800# boat with my 57 ,granddad talked me into surge brakes , I loved them (this was in '69-'70.....
    Hnstray likes this.

  5. Drive your vehicle to a trusted local welder that builds custom hitches.

    Tell him or her how much weight you are hauling.

    Have him or her inspect the frame - he or she will let you know if your vehicle
    is up to the task.

    You might have to beef up the suspension as well.

    Electric brake controller as well.

    No one on the internet is a substitute for a pair of Eyes on the Prize.

    alanp561, jim snow, AHotRod and 4 others like this.
  6. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 3,419


    Don't forget air shocks as they help considerably withride/handling. Also an anti jackknife mount. Basically a shock attached to the trailer tongue and the hitch. Very good in high cross winds or when you have to make a sudden correction due to a goof ball driver cutting you off.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  7. pwschuh
    Joined: Oct 27, 2008
    Posts: 2,310


    Everything that's already been said plus Never Be In A Hurry when towing a trailer. You won't be able to stop as fast as anyone else, even with trailer brakes. With the set-up you describe, you will be able to tow safely, but you should be about the slowest person on the road. Leave plenty of room and expect everyone you see to cut you off and then brake hard... because one of them will.
  8. Los_Control
    Joined: Oct 7, 2016
    Posts: 708

    from TX

    Pretty sure you need a Ford
  9. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,301


    the car has power disc brakes on the 350 engine and 350 trans thinking about air shocks or air bags on the rear with a sway bar the camper has brakes
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  10. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,301


    I know a few good welders but no one here will make a custom hitch
  11. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,398


    Sadly, liability seems to rule the day these days...……….

    alanp561 likes this.
  12. My receiver hitch on my daily tow vehicle is a Class 5 made to custom fit my F350 CC 7.3 PSD Dually Pick Up.

    By a talented welder in Iowa City, IA.

  13. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 5,139


    Don't forget the transmission cooler, and make sure the engine cooling system is in good shape.

    And make sure your fuel gauge is accurate.:eek:
    Blues4U and Hnstray like this.
  14. ken bogren
    Joined: Jul 6, 2010
    Posts: 730

    ken bogren

    Maybe try an RV dealer that sells travel trailers?
    Texas Webb and Special Ed like this.
  15. miker98038
    Joined: Jan 24, 2011
    Posts: 487


    If the RV dealers can’t recommend someone, up here the big UHaul stores do custom work. The other guys that sent me in the right direction were the trailer guys, the last one being a horse trailer lot. Of course, I lived in a horse town in those days.
  16. WB69
    Joined: Dec 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,285


    Absolutely true. Very well said.
  17. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,346


    I’m not sure if anyone sell a new hitch to fit your car,but if I remember correctly your car frame is a channel and rather flat at the back. Find a receiver hitch, that will match up to your frame. A lot of pickup hitches are flat mounted.
    Drill your frame through both bottom and top rails and include spacers to draw it tight. Might add reinforcements , if you can. Luckily most frames on vehicles are 34 inches wide.
    This advise is from memory, as I don’t have a car of your model to look at!

    Bmac40Ply and jazz1 like this.
  18. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,272

    Jalopy Joker

    run good size side mirrors, and consider a camera on back of trailer, even if not traditional
  19. Happydaze
    Joined: Aug 21, 2009
    Posts: 986


    I tow a non vintage travel trailer (probably 2000lbs loaded?) with a '41 Chevy (350/ 350/ 10 bolt and one of 'those' Ford ifs's). My hitch is home grown and works well. Comprises steel plates, round tube and US sourced bolt on receiver and plug in hitch thing. Frame has additional substantial anti crush sleeves installed (and fully welded in).

    Agree everything that's been already said but will add what I consider a massive factor, inline stability, as in dealing with the effects of cross winds and bow waves of semi trucks and the likes. Car needs to track along the road well (good caster) and use an anti sway mechanism between the car and trailer. Not sure what's available in the US but in Europe there's various kinds. I use a Bulldog (think large friction shock on it's side) which works well and also controls pitching / see-sawing between the car and trailer (like a single leaf spring, well, not like at all, as that's what it is!).

    Will run happily at about 60mph (UK speed limit for such rigs) all day. Fuel economy kinda sucks though. I must lose getting on for 50%. Must be a carb thing as my wife's diesel daily driver suv will give 28mpg on it's own, or pulling any trailer.

    Hnstray likes this.
  20. I shudder when I think of how we towed stock cars on trailers.. no surge brake, no equalizing anything. Just a car on a trailer with no brakes, chained down in the front, cinched down with a come-a-long in the back... Some nights it was 60 miles each way.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  21. southcross2631
    Joined: Jan 20, 2013
    Posts: 4,004


    When I had my shop in Florida I modified a Dodge Class IV hitch to fit a 64 Mercury Monterey convertible. He tows a 29 foot Airstream with it. He still has 4 wheel drum brakes, we added a power brake booster and a brake controller. He had a spring company in Jax make him a set of rear springs.
    egads and Boneyard51 like this.
  22. 29moonshine
    Joined: Dec 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,301


    do you know the spring company s name
  23. The car was a 1953 Mercury Monterey convertible. HRP
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  24. I would suggest sending flynbrian48 a PM, he pulled his 1947 Spartan Manor (approximately 24 foot) be hind his tin woodie wagon, I'm sure he could give you some pointers. HRP

    dana barlow and Boneyard51 like this.
  25. Blues4U
    Joined: Oct 1, 2015
    Posts: 4,879

    from So Cal

    I pull a 17' travel trailer behind an OT 2008 Ford Escape, and have many miles of traveling with that rig. From personal experience I can tell you that the folks above have given some great advice. The load leveling, or equalizing hitches are great, I highly recommend that. As far as the anti-sway attachments, sure, go ahead and get one, but you may find you don't need it. The problem with them is they have to be removed before backing, and it's a pain in the ass to have to get out and remove the anti-sway before you start backing up. Then reattach it when you start going forward again. In my case I found that it was not needed, the rig never gets squirrely even under the worst conditions of side winds or passing big rigs. Your rig may not be so stable. So have it in case you need it. Definitely add a good trans oil cooler if you don't already have one. A heavier duty/bigger radiator may be needed, long uphill climbs can generate a lot of heat. The equalizer hitch will reduce the need to beef up the rear suspension, as it equalizes the load over all 4 wheels, but your suspension should be in great working order, and you may want to beef it up anyway for the extra load. Good shocks will help. When you load the trailer, make sure the balance of the trailer is heavier at the tongue, nothing worse than having the rear end of the tow vehicle get light, no anti-sway bar will save you when that happens. And watch your speed going downhill. Some guys like to get a running start on the next hill, but that is also a good way for it all to get out of control. A rule of thumb from my truck driving days was to use the same gear range going down hill as it took to go up the hill.

    For mirrors, we use the suction cup style mirrors from Wallmart, these are add on mirrors that attach with a suction cup and have a leash that goes around the stock mirror in case they come loose. I've traveled all over the country with the same pair of mirrors, they have last years for me, and they work well, as long as the stock mirror you attach them too are solid and don't vibrate in the wind. If they do, you won't be able to see crap out of the extension mirrors. In that case, do they still sell those old mirrors that attached to the front fenders?
  26. Special Ed
    Joined: Nov 1, 2007
    Posts: 6,125

    Special Ed

    I've pulled a small camping trailer with my '55 Chevy sedan for decades. Before I'd offer any advice to you, I'd want to know what your plans are. I see that you're in Florida ... are you talking about hauling it around locally, taking off for the hills/ mountains, driving on interstates, cruising cross-country, or what?
    Some of what these guys are suggesting is a bit much if you're just keeping it local. The furthest I've towed mine was probably 300 miles (one-way) through some pretty mountainous terrain, but most has been within a 50 mile radius of my home. Your plans will dictate what you actually need.
    The previous suggestion of using U-Haul to build a hitch for you, was a good one. Any decent-sized travel supply place should also be able to hook you up, as far as a hitch. I've had good results with adding some extra pressure in my rear air shocks to keep things balanced and level.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  27. MoparTobi
    Joined: May 26, 2014
    Posts: 53

    from Macon, Ga

    Something to think about. My wife and I just bought an O/T travel trailer. I went to get insurance on it, my agent which is a car guy ask me about my tow vehicle. My O/T truck would have been maxed out on the tow rating of the camper empty. He said "if" I were to get involved in an accident the first thing they would look at would be the weight of the trailer and the tow rating of the truck. They will look for any reason not to pay, and god forbid anyone gets hurt. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. I took the safe way out and upgraded my truck. Your situation may be different than mine, camper weighs close to 10k lbs empty.
  28. egads
    Joined: Aug 23, 2011
    Posts: 758


  29. jazz1
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,482


    There are universal hitches available, I've installed a few for folks. You'll likely have to drill a few holes. 20' trailer weighs about 5000lbs so you'll want trailer brake control added to car. You may or may not need overload leaf added to rear. Towing mirrors are handy.
    Boneyard51 likes this.
  30. Boneyard51
    Joined: Dec 10, 2017
    Posts: 4,346


    Special Ed..... I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you, that what folks have suggested is overkill. It makes no difference if you are pulling 10 miles or 1000 miles. 60 miles per hour towing a trailer is just as dangerous close to home as it is 1000 miles from home. Your hitch , springs, tow vehicle, should all reflect the weight and size of the trailer!


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