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Who here flat tows their Explorer's, Sport Trac's, etc...?

MidnightRebel07

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I'm in the process of doing my SAS, V8 conversion on my 2003 Sport Trac. The rig will be street legal but just barely and it won't be the best for highway use (to get out to the trails further away).

I don't have a trailer and so I would like to flat tow my truck behind my 2013 Toyota Tacoma BAJA 4wd doublecab short bed. I have a heavy duty tow bar with safety chains already.

More info on my trail/ street rig. 2003 Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT. I'm in the process of the following setup:

351w, C6 trans, 1356 manual transfercase from a 1989 Ford F-250
Dana 44 front solid axle from a 1989 Grand Waggy (going to have either 4.10 or 4.56 gears, selectable locker eventually)
Ford 8.8 rear solid axle from a 1999 Explorer V8 AWD (replacement axle, original bent in accident, gear same as front of course)
37" H1 Goodyear tires mounted on H1 recentered double beadlocks

I listed the mods because they will affect the flat tow setup I need info about.

What all will I need to do to flat tow my rig once it is complete? Any info, links or sites would be greatly appreciated.

Here's a picture of the Trac (not finished yet but it doesn't have the stock front bumper or frame ears on it).

IMG_6132.jpg


IMG_6135.jpg


And the Tacoma that will be towing it.

IMG_4201.jpg


IMG_4203.jpg
 


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MidnightRebel07

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Nobody flat tows their rigs to or from the trails? How about really helpful links, thanks.
 




Maniak

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[MENTION=3817]BKennedy[/MENTION] flat tows his explorer to the trails and now it has an SAS, although I don't know if he has done it since the SAS yet.

He can probably tell you what not to do.. he had had his explorer rear end the RV once.. IIRC, he hit the brakes and the explorer overdrove the bar...

~Mark
 




MidnightRebel07

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Thanks , I'll ask him about it.
 




dkchrist

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Brake Buddy

Something to consider so you don't run over your self. You will need to have a set of tail lights or wire up so you can use the vehicle tail lights. Neutral in the t-case will be your friend to help prevent wear on other components. Flat towing also wears rear ends funny since you are pulling the wheels vs. driving the wheels. (Not too much of a concern unless you are dragging it all the time). These may be things you already know, sorry if they are.
 




MidnightRebel07

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I appreciate all the info. It's been atleast twelve years since I flat towed a vehicle and that was a 1979 IH Scout trail rig towed by a 1980 Chevy 3/4 ton. A lot of drivetrain and electronic components have been added to these newer vehicles so I wasn't sure what I'll need to disconnect, wire up, etc... Back then you just put it in neutral, took off the driveshaft and towed with auxiliary taillights mounted to the vehicle being towed.
 




BKennedy

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Saw this thread when I was mentioned. I have flat towed the Explorer for many years. I have a Brake Buddy and have never towed without it. The one incident I had was the Explorer using the tow bar as a pivot under heavy braking and running into the back of my Silverado. A box truck pulled out in front of me, then stopped. The tow bar was totaled, as well as it caused 6K damage to the Silverado (no damage to the Explorer). Insurance covered it as a "no fault" (pays to have good carrier). The Explorer was in the top of the Silverado's tail gate and its front tires were still on the ground. Now with the SAS, the potential is much greater. I took care of the issue by adding a set of limit straps that are only used while towing. They will prevent the front suspension from unloading by only giving it 3-4" of rebound. With the limit straps in place, it is not probable for the Explorer to pivot on the tow bar as its own weight will keep it on the pavement.

I have towed it twice with the SAS with no issues.
You can't tow a Explorer unless you have a manual transfer case. The automatic cases don't have a true neutral. I have a NP231.

Air up your tires before flat towing as well. I usually run about 30 PSI with 35's on the highway because that is the sweet spot for drivability for my rig, but add 5 PSI prior to flat towing. It reduces rolling friction, which helps it steer and track behind the towed vehicle.

I chose to flat tow vs. trailer mainly due to space limitations at my house. If I had enough room for a trailer, I might have gone that route. With a quality tow bar and braking system (about 2K total), along with the additional wear on expensive off-road tires, you are in it about as much money as purchasing a trailer.

I would not recommend towing a heavy vehicle like your Sport Trac behind something that weighs the same or less like a Tacoma. You will be at the limit of its towing capacity. If you had to brake hard, and did not have a braking system, or it failed, the Sport Trac would push the Tacoma right down the road.

In California, a supplemental brake system is required for any towed vehicle over 1500 pounds.
 




MidnightRebel07

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Thanks for the helpful insight and information BKennedy, I greatly appreciate it. My main concern with flat towing it is the height and weight compared to the Tacoma. Mainly the handling and keeping it stable and follow the same track as the Tacoma with all the windy, steep hills around Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania in general as well as all the beautiful potholes and construction zones we have here (the state flower is the Orange Safety Barrel).

Would I be better off getting a car dolly instead of flat towing it? This will relieve some wear on the gears, tires and incase I break something I could still tow it home. My ST will have a manual transfercase with a neutral position. I still need to measure the width of the axles/ wheels and tires to see if it'll even fit on a car dolly but I can get a decent used dolly for around $5-600 and just add my own safety mods to it. I'm also trying to keep the weight down so I don't tear up the drivetrain on the Tacoma. I will be adding a partial exo, under belly skid, tube cage bed, etc... so weight will be a big factor.
 




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You can't tow a Explorer unless you have a manual transfer case. The automatic cases don't have a true neutral.

The 1354 electric case has a Neutral, but you have to take the shift motor off the rear in order to put it there (the controller doesn't allow you to access it directly). Not sure about other cases (4405, etc.).
 




MidnightRebel07

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I'll be using the 1356 manual t-case from the 1989 F250 drivetrain donor truck.
 




BKennedy

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I don't think a car dolly will help. I don't know about your vehicle, but the SAS made mine much more stable on the highway. I tow the Explorer mainly behind the RV, which is about 18000 pounds. I am not planning on towing with anything else. I think your Sport Trac would pull the Tacoma all over the place.

For example; I pull a horse trailer that weigh approximately 2700 pounds with my 1500 Silverado. Add the horses and their gear, and the total weight gets up around 5000, which is well under the rated towing capacity. I can feel every shift and shimmy with a very stable trailer. I can even feel the horses shift their weight.

What is the reason you want to tow it versus drive it to the trail? If I did not have the RV, I would just drive the Explorer.
 




MidnightRebel07

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Mainly because most of the trails are atleast 50-80+ miles away on the highway or turnpike. It's not going to be very highway happy with the 3spd trans, 351w and 37's with all of the extra gear and weight.
 




dkchrist

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The soft suspension is something I hadn't considered. I don't know what is available for a taco but air bags or heavier sway bars would help in that area but the weight would still be of concern. 55 mph would be about your top cruising speed going by your specs so you could just make some people angry on the interstate :D
 




MidnightRebel07

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Yeah I think I'll just have to drive the Trac back and fourth to the trails at first to see how it takes the highways. Just a slower trip. Lol. I was concerned about the Tacoma being able to drag that much weight over the mountains and hills here in Pa. Worse case I'll just have to borrow my buddy's '06 F250 and eventually buy a trailer, that won't be anytime soon but I'll need it for longer trips like Moab, SMORR and others I've always wanted to get to.
 




BKennedy

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Yeah I think I'll just have to drive the Trac back and fourth to the trails at first to see how it takes the highways. Just a slower trip. Lol. I was concerned about the Tacoma being able to drag that much weight over the mountains and hills here in Pa. Worse case I'll just have to borrow my buddy's '06 F250 and eventually buy a trailer, that won't be anytime soon but I'll need it for longer trips like Moab, SMORR and others I've always wanted to get to.

You forgot Truckhaven Hills..
 




MidnightRebel07

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Lol, yeah I would be tying all night if I listed all the places I want to go wheelin'.
 








BKennedy

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I was going to suggest a overdrive transmission but that is a crazy price.
Did Ford make a OD 4x4 trans for the 351w?
I have a GM 700R4 in my Explorer and love it. Maybe Advanced Adaptors makes adaptors for the 351?

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MidnightRebel07

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Someone mentioned to me about using a O.D. trans out of a F-150 or FS Bronco from the same Gen as the donor rig back when I bought the drivetrain donor F-250 (1989). I haven't really looked into it that much yet but might want to since it'll see more road time then originally planned.

A buddy of mine just got a newer Dodge or Jeep in his junkyard with a 5.7 Hemi in it that's 4wd and only has maybe 25-30k miles on it but I really want to stay away from electronics and emissions B.S.. I plan on removing most of the emissions equipment from the 351w. It's an '89 so I can do that without screwing with how it runs.
 


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