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Towing a 19foot travel trailer with the 99 XLT

RustyMacintosh

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OK, say it. CRAZY!

Ok that aside, I have a Fleetwood travel trailer that I have been tugging around for the summer behind my 99 Suburban 5.7. The Suburban is currently in the shop getting the 4L60e rebuilt at 232k.

Now....(drum roll) I have a pair of Ford Explorers. 4.0's with relatively new motors (under 30k used with new chains and cassettes).

The one XLT 4x4 that I am pondering towing this trailer over to the coast from time to time, has a 500 mile rebuilt automatic transmission. While the motor was out, I was cruising Ebay. A man in Georgia, a shop, had this fully rebuilt automatic that he got for a customer, and the customer never came back. $2300 and some change. He sold it on Ebay, I was the winner top bid. (the only bid).

It's installed, with Valvoline synthetic. The transfer case was rebuilt just prior to doing the engine. (I ran the XLT at 110 flat out for 30-45 minutes racing to my adopted kid's college graduation in May 18---took the chains out. They were noisy when I got home. The engine was swapped with a used one, AND we did chains and cassettes at that time.

OK that being said, (everyone can stop shaking their head now),

The trailer weighs 3700 empty. Maybe 4700 loaded with my stuff. I have a class 5 hitch and a 7 pin plug at the back of the XLT. I do NOT have a trailer controller. BUT CURT sells a bluetooth one which I have, and it works pretty darn good. I would, of course, put in a hard-mounted trailer brake controller.

Cooling system is relatively new. The AC got a new front condenser when the engine was installed. Brakes and shocks (KYB), and brand new Goodyear Wranglers.

So what is the risk? The book says 5900 with the 3.73 axles which I have. I'm under 5k loaded. The trailer has a 2inch ball btw. My XLT unit has a factory tow package. OK, its 20 years old. OK its got new components, but I am not willing at this point to buy a new tow vehicle because I MIGHT ----MIGHT---buy a Class C motorhome this winter. The travel trailer is a good one and has served me well over the years. It has electric brakes on both axles. The Suburban tows it nicely, albeit the trans began to show signs of 2-3 slipping and 3-4 soft hesitation shifting.

I occasionally go to Yosemite. I occasionally go to the coast. I am not a hotrod. I know the limits of my equipment. Yeah I have the big EZ Lift hitch with sway bars too.

Risk factor here? Transmission cooler upgrade? What ya'l think? Pack it up, load the trailer, go to Uhaul for propane....laugh at the fools who wont rent a trailer to us 2nd gen Explorers? Their sign out front says "Any car can tow trailers...."
 



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gmanpaint

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Risks with that much weight, that I can see right off the bat are...

1) If you have the 4405 Transfercase, (even rebuilt) I wouldn't trust it to tow that much weight for long.

2) If your running stock leaf packs ( even new), they will not only compress flat, they won't recover after a while.

3) Better Shocks would help stabilize sway if it happens.

I would install a 1354 manual chain driven transfercase, and change the leaf packs to a heavy duty version with 2-3" of lift. Maybe even add over leaf helpers, to minimize spring fatigue. Rancho RS9000Xl adjustable shocks to stiffen them while towing with a turn of a knob, or the in cab controller.

What say you @traveler ?
 






traveler

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I wouldn't be as worried about the chassis as the drivetrain. I towed my single axle 3500 trailer with my 2000 5.0 explorer and though it did the job, it worked at it. And I've got a dual core aluminum radiator and a F-350 transmission cooler and 4.10s.
The springs are easy. Any of the things Gman said would work. I use coil spring Gabriel shocks to boost the factory leafs. I also have longer shackles.
I'm still concerned about that 4.0 though.
I guess get a big big transmission cooler, and a bigger radiator (they make em). And get a scangauge too keep track of everything... Might work.
What it boils down to is how do you feel about it? You've driven it before, does it feel strong enough? Firm enough?
 






RustyMacintosh

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Just for the sake of humanity and historical reference for generations of Ford Explorer owners to come.....I'm going to hook the mess up and drive it down the highway for an hour or two. I'm uber curious more than desperate. The Suburban comes out of the shop either today or in the morning. The shop is building me a killer trans so I can flatten my foot into the old tank on a long hard hill without worries of the sungear doing an isis suicide act.

For only because there are some things in life you want to brag about and for pictures to repost on this forum....

I guess when it all comes down to brass tacks and safety, my guess is the XLT mileage towing the trailer won't be any better or worse than the 5.7 Suburban. The GMC has an extra 1000#s of bulk over the XLT.

I was in Big Sur last week with the dog and cat, the campground where I was camped out it----near my spot a whole slew of mid-sized SUV's towing those vintage travel trailers from the early 60's that had been restored. Also, next to me was a Saturn SUV which was towing a smaller travel trailer too. (I wondered about that CVT that GM stuffed in those rides---but kept quiet.)

The XLT has towed my 19 foot ski boat for the past few years. But the tongue weight is much less. The boat does not have brakes. But that Renken is heavy. Not as heavy as a 1999 Mallard 19ft travel trailer, but heavy within itself.

The picture below is the animals and myself camped out in Pacific Grove next to Asilomar State Park Conference Center on a side street. And wouldn't you know it, someone parks directly in front of the GMC....the whole street was empty and they park near my Suburban. I guess for safety, sorta like a small kitten who snuggles up next to the momma cat.

suburban-mallard-pg-sept19.jpg


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RustyMacintosh

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I just returned home from a 400-mile trip towing the Mallard. The 99 Exploder did just fine.

We averaged 13mpg with mixed freeway driving, and hill pulling. I took a laser pointer temp reader with me. Trans never ran over 210, even after a hard pull up a grade. Engine never went over normal. Transfer case was nominal. I was jumpy about coming off a long grade for the first few times. I used a CURT bluetooth setup at first. But fiddling with the brake ap on my phone was a hassle. I swapped back to the Prodigy in-cab setup. Much better. Never at any time did I feel the Explorer was loose. Or being pushed around by the trailer. The extra sway control I bought really kept the back end of the Mallard from waggling around even when larger vehicles came up behind me.

That 4.0 actually did a good job. Sure there were times we were down into 3rd and once in a while it would drop to 2nd with the R's up in the low 3000 but that was me. I was easy on it. After all this was a trial run.

The trip went over to the coast down to Santa Barbara where we crashed out at El Cap for a day or two. Then we flip-flopped around back north up Highway 1 into Big Sur. I was so glad I bought gas at Costco! Gas at Big Sur was pushing $6.00 a gallon. All those rented Mustang convertibles were lined up pumping that overpriced stuff.

Coming up Highway 1 which gets pretty hilly and winds along mile after mile, I had followers. An F250 lifted towing one of those cruise-ship 5th wheels. When I pulled into a turn out to let those tourists in those rented Mustangs by, they pulled in behind me. By the time we got to and past Big Sur,I had a following. Two VW Vanagons, the F250 pulled off in Big Sur somewhere, and a converted school bus. We all tagged along together to Carmel.

I pulled the Ford and Mallard into the parking lot only to have two cops pounce on me almost within a minute or two. One told me I could not camp at the Safeway parking lot. (As if I was planning on it), I told the cop that I was heading over the hill into Monterey and chill out.

A couple of young ex militaryites trying to flex their wings no doubt. That is when I told one of the cops that I was born and raised in Monterey long before he hit this world. In fact, I went to the high school just right up the road. AND, the family own property down Carmel Road. It backed them off.

So off we set the next day up Highway 1 up to SFO. Lord was I glad to get out of that shithole. I was expecting at any moment for the San Andreas to launch us out into the Pacific.

We continued downtown SFO up over the Golden Gate north. Ukiah was much more friendly than Carmel was. Walmart let us camp out. Costco got us some decently priced gas.

The following day was going to be the most difficult for the Ford. Highway 28 up and over to I-5. The Explorer did fine. Once we hit I-5 it was down to UC Davis to see the adopted kid. Then home the next day.

This week we head back to SLO to have Thanksgiving with friends. My adopted kid will be down. My bio kid is busy with FedEx flying through the holidays, his wife will be with her family, so dogs and me, and the Siamese are being treated by friends on the coast and the adopted kid. Since I am single, my folks have passed, the bio kid is doing great with FedEx, the AK steps in to rescue the old man for the holidays. If anyone has ever been in and around SLO they know Madona Inn. I will actually stay indoors and not in the trailer. The dogs--well they do best in a known environment, but the Siamese goes with me.

**Footnote: I was complaining to the AK that it is getting harder and harder to find free overnight places to crash. Walmarts are shutting down their lots to overnighters (homeless encampments I guess), The AK laughed! He told me he knew some really cool spots in and around SLO and CalPoly which I could park my trailer for a couple of days without the popo chasing us off. (It's an inside joke, since he was homeless living in a 1971 Ford Van when I first met him 6 years ago).

20191104_093032.jpg
 






MrQ

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The Explorer in its stock form with the SOHC is rated at 5k lbs. Nothing wrong with the 4405 t-case for this application. I would recommend a bigger transmission cooler and weight distributing hitch, however. Keep it out of overdrive and be patient with acceleration, should handle the trip just fine.

In the long term i would get the weight assist shocks (The ones with the coil springs). That will definitely help the leaf springs.
 






RandomNerd2000

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I'm just here to comment that man you're brave with a SOHC, but with a rebuilt drivetrain I'd do it. I pulled 2,800 pounds behind my 5.0 2000 often, in 100 degree weather. I'll give these trucks credit, they are durable.

The springs are what I'd have been most concerned with, on my 2000 they had no arch left from years of pulling trailers before I bought it. It rode like heck too, so soft it was too soft, ate back tires too but that could've been something else, I had a Carolina Lean without even trying to. I'd not do all gman said to, that's excessive. These trucks were used to tow travel trailers new often.
 






gmanpaint

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New is one thing. 20 years old is another.

5.0 didn't have a weak electromagnet clutch driven 4405 transfercase prone to multiple reasons of failure either.

My suggestions are only that, a suggestion to someone asking for advice. Those are based off of experience from numerous failed parts under abuse. Heed or ignore, doesn't matter to me. Lol.
 






MrQ

Smokey the clutch is; Missed shift you did
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My suggestions are only that, a suggestion to someone asking for advice. Those are based off of experience from numerous failed parts under abuse. Heed or ignore, doesn't matter to me. Lol.
Then don't slap "disagree's" on people who have an alternative suggestion...
 






gmanpaint

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Then don't slap "disagree's" on people who have an alternative suggestion...

The Explorer in its stock form with the SOHC is rated at 5k lbs. 1) Nothing wrong with the 4405 t-case for this application. I would recommend a bigger transmission cooler and weight distributing hitch, however. 2) Keep it out of overdrive and be patient with acceleration, should handle the trip just fine.

In the long term i would get the weight assist shocks (The ones with the coil springs). That will definitely help the leaf springs.

I will be specific in my disagreement with your post MrQ:
1) Opinion stated as a fact. Not a suggestion.
2) Telling a person what to do. Not a suggestion.

The rest of your post is a suggestion, but far from completely so. Telling me what to do, is not going to fly either. ;)
 






MrQ

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RustyMacintosh

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I do have KYB shocks, also am using a Reese weight distro hitch and bars with a Harbor Freight sway clutch setup. The brakes on the Exploder without the electric trailer brakes connected is nominal at best, once the Prodigy was installed, it was fair sailing. We are heading to Yosemite NP this week, they say there might be snow...so this ought to be a fun cold week.
 






Mbrooks420

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It’ll pull it. It won’t be any kind of treat since you are up near the limit. You will likely roast that rebuilt transmission if you tow it enough.

Despite being rated to tow it, the V6s don’t do it reliably enough. The rating is really about what it can stop, and being comparable on paper with the competitors. They only care that it tows you 1 mile out of the warranty coverage.
 






Josh P

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I'd like to see how well it does in snow. I grew up in Atascadero, the Madonna Inn is very nice. The area has changed a lot in the 20+ years I've been away. I'd never move back cause I don't miss the fires and earthquakes.
 






RustyMacintosh

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I'd like to see how well it does in snow. I grew up in Atascadero, the Madonna Inn is very nice. The area has changed a lot in the 20+ years I've been away. I'd never move back cause I don't miss the fires and earthquakes.


I was surprised I was not run out of Madonna Inn actually. I hid out in that dirt area just as you pull in. The dogs and I walked the bike path up as far as we could go north. Their WIFI was pretty good actually--I am thankful they give it out for free. I for a taste for Gingerbread cookies so I wandered over to the bakery. Nothing! Just fancy 10m calorie cakes. So I went over to Ralphs. Still nothing! One of Madonna's illustrious employees almost ran me down in the crosswalk coming back. Clown....he flipped me off. TYVM. I enjoyed the free stay anyway.

Because I was curious we cruised up Highway 1 to Big Sur then into Monterey. It was slow going since traffic was heavy and road conditions were down to 1 lane in areas. I had a F250 towing a huge 5th wheel follower. When I would pull off to let the faster traffic by he would pull off. I never did shake him. My only surprise was how many rented Mustang and Camero convertibles were on Highway 1. Rentals. Gas at Big Sur was $$$$ Cayugos was close to $5. a gallon.

As for the snow, well just as soon as the renters get the rent checks ($$$) in, and I sign some papers with the trust attorney, we are heading to Sonora then up to Strawberry. The weather has been foul, to say the least. I actually do not know how this combo will do in the snow. By law I carry chains. The Ford has new Goodyear Wranglers on the ground. The only pickle in the mix is how the trailer brakes react. The last thing I need is to exchange directions while heading up 120 at 45mph,

The 4.0 is not a powerhouse. But it likes to rev. I have extra-large coolers upfront for the transmission. Once the rain lets up we are installing a temp gauge on the pan which will add to the pair I have already installed showing coolant temp and what the upper hose is reading directly out of the thermostat housing.

Yeah, I know California has changed for the worse. It's not so much the inevitable earthquake that will (hopefully) launch SFO into the Pacific, but more so the infrastructure. The roads are horrid and crowded. Costs are going off the scale. I was down in SoCal in late Oct. It has changed, for the worse. The freeways are packed 24/7. Treatment by fellow citizens or I should say, mistreatment, was the norm. I will never go to LaLa land again.

Next trip to the snow I'll get pictures. I do know so far the Exploder seems to handle the trailer without too much protest. All total now is we have put about 2500 miles on the Exploder. I checked the trans fluid it was still bright red. But then again I have a huge cooler upfront. The transfer case when I checked it in Monterey after a hard tug with a laser pointer temp tester showed normal temp.

Just for prosperity I also own a Gen1 XLT 4.0 OHV version. For fun I was going to toss the receiver hitch on it with the sway bars. Take the trailer around the block. I'm sure that OHV version would not like tugging this trailer up hills at all. But it might be interesting to take it down 99 for a few miles just for shiztz and giggles I guess.
 






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