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  • Towing a Vintage Trailer

    I am actually toying with the idea about "locally" towing a vintage 22' Airstream Trailer which has electric brakes with my 1960 Thunderbird. Has anyone set-up their vehicle for towing? Type of Hitch and attachment points? Recommended AirBag system and placement? Different Leaf Springs, 6 to 7 leafs? Revised Brake System? Any and all ideas are appreciated, ..... even the "Don't do it" comments.
    Thanks,
    StevieB

  • #2
    Towing a Vintage Trailer

    Stevie, when I bought my '59 YellowRose out of northern Mississippi, it had a Draw-Tite trailer hitch installed on it. It was made expressly for the 1958-59-1960 Squarebird. The PO was using it to trailer his boat to the Gulf Coast. You will see in the pix I am posting, what it looked like and how it was installed. Although you cannot see the back side of the installation. It was bolted to the frame behind the bumper. Also in the pix you will see the adjustable air shocks that it has on it to this day. You will see what it looked like off the car also. There is a pic that shows you where the air valve is located to air up or down the shocks. You will also see a pic of my rear end. It looks to me that the springs are OEM springs. I do not think he changed anything regarding them. That trailer hitch now lives in Australia and belongs to one of our members who has a trailer. I was never going to use it to pull anything with.... Here are the pix...
    Attached Files

    Ray Clark - Squarebirds Administrator
    '59 Tbird "The Yellow Rose Of Texas" aka "Tweety Bird"
    "It's Hip To Be Square"
    Thunderbird Registry #33025 VTCI #11178

    Contact me via Private Message for my email address, or (Cell) 210-875-1411 (Home) 210-674-5781

    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_gallery/TechnicalResourceLibrary/trl.htm

    Comment


    • #3
      "Baaaaak in the day............" cars towed a lot of trailers. On our farm we often put 3 wagons with 12+ TONS of grain behind our 64 Galaxie with a bumper hitch just like pictured below.

      Was it safe?? Never had a problem, so it must have been, right? Did we go far??? no Did we go fast??no Were there any cars in the traffic that could stop better than us??no We got away with it without any brakes other than the drums on the car!!

      In short, local use you might get away with it, but for any distance or speed in today's mix of vehicles that have vastly improved brakes, I would think long and hard about doing it. Even if you are alert in a modern car, the chances are you will rear end the vehicle ahead of you should it be equipped with computer controlled braking in an emergency situation. Enjoy your Thunderbird however you choose. They were meant to drive and will certainly step up to the task, but be safe.

      Comment


      • #4
        My car runs HOT without a trailer behind it. I'm surprised they got away with it. And yes, I got a 5 bladed fan, new radiator, and aftermarket shroud. I got the original AC working but hesitate to use it because of the engine temps. Back in the day, I doubt anyone converted to an electric fan and alternator.

        Nyles

        Comment


        • #5
          Towing a 22' trailer with a squarebird

          "Don't do it" comments.
          Dano Calgary,Alberta Canada
          Thunderbird Registry
          58HT #33317
          60 HT (Sold )

          Comment


          • #6
            Whats the weight of the trailer.
            If it's 3500 or under, I might do it, but
            not without a brake controller like this.

            https://www.amazon.com/Tekonsha-9088.../dp/B002YIACG8

            and not on the hitch shown above,
            I'd either build my own hitch or find
            a lower end class III, if anyone still makes one.
            59-430-HT

            Comment


            • #7
              Trailer Stats

              It weighs less than 2900 fully loaded. Just wondering if anyone out there had tried it safely and what their set-up was. I would use an electric brake controller for sure.

              Comment


              • #8
                If the trailer is balanced with slightly more weight on the tongue, you don't need 'bags or springs'. 200-lbs of tongue weight is excessive.

                If you're simply bopping around Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Ontario, electric brakes are optional because we are flat and at sea level with a few mountains 'up north'. The guys climbing the Rocky Mountains or the Appalachians need brakes, carb jets, etc. Michigan weather is very mild compared with the California desert (or the Mojave), so a decent stock cooling system should be good enough.

                We see six and four-cylinder vehicles pulling trailers all the time, here. By comparison, your Thunderbird is a monster. - Dave
                My latest project:
                CLICK HERE to see my custom hydraulic roller 390 FE build.

                "We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?"
                --Lee Iacocca

                From: Royal Oak, Michigan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by OX1 View Post
                  Whats the weight of the trailer.
                  If it's 3500 or under, I might do it, but
                  not without a brake controller like this.

                  https://www.amazon.com/Tekonsha-9088.../dp/B002YIACG8

                  and not on the hitch shown above,
                  I'd either build my own hitch or find
                  a lower end class III, if anyone still makes one.
                  I agree. A bit late to the party, but my wife and I recently decided to alter our plans for the Bird and I found this thread while researching the new plan. Our '59 came with a hitch very similar to the one Ray posted above, maybe the exact same one, who knows. It would be fine for a light utility trailer and it might be adequate for a travel trailer for short distances. But I really wouldn't trust it for that. The only other recommendation I have would be to completely upgrade the braking system. I don't like the single-piston master cylinder even for regular driving, I sure wouldn't use it for towing anything.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You would really need to research a class III with a 2" receiver. I'm sure if you can't find one a hitch company could make it. And if you adjust your drums properly combined with the trailer brakes and a good inside control for the trailer brakes you'd be fine, it's not like travel trailers were invented yesterday, and an Airstream is about as light as you can get. I might not pull a 36' travel trailer but sub 25' would be fine.
                    Scott
                    South Delta, BC, Canada
                    1960 White T-Bird, PS, PB that's it
                    Red Leather Interior!
                    www.squarebirds.org/users/sidewalkman
                    Thunderbird Registry #61266
                    http://www.squarebirds.org/picture_g...ibrary/trl.htm

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joe Johnston View Post
                      "Baaaaak in the day............" cars towed a lot of trailers. On our farm we often put 3 wagons with 12+ TONS of grain behind our 64 Galaxie with a bumper hitch just like pictured below.

                      Was it safe?? Never had a problem, so it must have been, right? Did we go far??? no Did we go fast??no Were there any cars in the traffic that could stop better than us??no We got away with it without any brakes other than the drums on the car!!

                      In short, local use you might get away with it, but for any distance or speed in today's mix of vehicles that have vastly improved brakes, I would think long and hard about doing it. Even if you are alert in a modern car, the chances are you will rear end the vehicle ahead of you should it be equipped with computer controlled braking in an emergency situation. Enjoy your Thunderbird however you choose. They were meant to drive and will certainly step up to the task, but be safe.
                      Agree. Even if you are driving slow on a highway, any kind of traffic and people will eat up the gap you have left for inferior brakes.
                      They don't understand your long stopping distances, and that assumes modern 4 wheel disk and at least 4 wheel drum trailer brakes
                      with a brake controller.

                      These birds barely stop themselves. At some point, you become a menace on the highway from driving too slow. You inhibit those
                      accelerating/decelerating for on/off ramps, force everyone to switch lanes around you since you are doing 15 MPH under the speed limit,
                      and/or jam up traffic when you have to pull in fast lane if emerg vehicle is pulled over on right (relatively new law in NJ).

                      And the handling dynamics of a squarebird are dismal, so forget any kind of emerg maneuver at highway speeds either.
                      Even with sway bar on both ends, it doesn't handle as well as even my 3/4 ton 4WD dodge diesel, which weighs
                      almost double...........
                      59-430-HT

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